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Safe Travel Abroad

map of the world on table for planning

Traveling abroad can be a great adventure, but it can sometimes pose health risks. These risks depend on where you are traveling, your activities, your health, and your vaccination history. Follow these tips to keep yourself and your family safe during and after your travel:

Before Your Trip

  • Use the CDC’s Destination Tool for country-specific health advice, medications, and vaccines.
  • Make an appointment with your health care provider as soon as possible before traveling, to get vaccines, medicine, health advice, and to evaluate your individual needs. Some vaccines like Hepatitis A require multiple doses several weeks or months apart. The Carroll County Health Department no longer offers travel vaccinations. Please visit our Adult Immunizations resource page for a list of locations that may offer the vaccinations or other services you need.
  • Pack a travel health kit with any prescription and over-the-counter medicines (enough to last your whole trip, plus a little extra), first aid supplies, your health insurance card, and more. For additional travel necessities, visit CDC’s Pack Smart page.
  • Enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you to make informed decisions about your travel plans. It also helps family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
  • Leave copies of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home, in case you lose them during travel.
  • Contact your health insurance to find out if they cover all medical care abroad. If not, consider buying additional travel health insurance.

 

During Your Trip

  • Prevent insect bites that can spread diseases like Zika, Lyme, West Nile, Dengue, Yellow Fever, and Malaria. Wear light-colored, long sleeve shirts and pants. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent (DEET, permethrin, etc). Insecticide-treated bednets are safe and very effective. For additional information, please visit our Fight the Bite page or CDC’s Avoid Bug Bites.
  • Eat and drink safely. Contaminated food or drinks can cause “traveler’s diarrhea” (the most common travel-related illness), and other diseases. Stick with foods you can see being cooked. Wash anything you can’t peel. Bismuth preparations such as Pepto-Bismol (R) help absorb the pathogens. Visit CDC’s Food and Water Safety page for more details.
  • Protect yourself from sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 or higher sunscreen and follow the instructions on the label. Be sure to reapply as directed. Hats, long sleeves, and special fabrics can effectively block sunlight.
  • Prepare for extreme heat temperatures.
  • Prepare for extreme cold temperatures. 
  • Avoid close contact with animals. Any animal, even if it appears to be friendly or harmless, can be dangerous. Take the photos from a safe distance!

 

After Your Trip

  • Use insect repellent. Even if you do not feel sick, you should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks after visiting an area with Zika, so that you do not spread Zika to mosquitoes in your area. Visit our Zika page for more information. Dengue, Chikungunya, and Japanese Encephalitis are also spread by mosquitoes. 
  • Use condoms, especially if you are pregnant.  Because of the risk of severe birth defects from Zika infection if a woman is infected during pregnancy, people who have traveled to an area with Zika who have pregnant partners should either use condoms, or not have sex during the entire pregnancy.
  • Watch for symptoms and talk to your doctor. If you do get sick during or after your trip, seek medical attention, and be sure to tell your healthcare provider where you have traveled.

References:

CDC’s Traveler’s Health page

CDC Summer Travel Abroad

CDC After Your Trip