Unique holidays - wonderful, healthy and safe

Unique holidays - wonderful, healthy and safe

Magdalena Gudzińska-Adamczyk MD
Epidemiology Consultant

Budget air tickets have been a daily occurrence for a few years. Moreover, it is increasingly common for airlines to offer affordable charters to destinations that until recently were impossible to reach directly from Poland without several transfers.

It is a good idea to search for tickets at websites that group the cheapest offers of multiple airlines. To buy them at attractive prices, it is generally recommended to buy well in advance or – on a last minute basis. However, the false conviction that a “last-minute” holiday cannot be well prepared in terms of medical protection still lingers on in the awareness of many travellers.However, a great percentage of preventive measures can be arranged for before the final decision on your holiday is taken. Most of the same vaccinations and the basic equipment of our first-aid kit will be needed during a journey to various destinations in the world.

Please find a few examples below, taking into consideration the traveller’s medical needs.

Burma– less available (visas!) than the popular neighbouring Thailand, it offers the difficult choice between the golden Buddha stupas, the jungle and a lazy cruise amongst the islands of the Andaman Sea (some have golden beaches, others are covered with lush subtropical plants, still others are inhabited by the Moken people whose way of life is based on age-old traditions). March is the best month to visit this place.

VACCINATION: against hepatitis A and typhoid fever; anti-cholera vaccination may also be useful. It is also sensible to have prior vaccination against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis as well as hepatitis B. When bitten by a dog, monkey or bat, it is much safer for you to have your preventive vaccination while still in Poland. If we plan to spend over a month in Burma or decide to go trekking in rural areas or forests, especially during the monsoon season (from May to October), it is worth getting additionally immunised against Japanese encephalitis. Malaria prevention measures are indicated already in the areas situated at <1000 m a.s.l. However, even if you take medication as prevention against malaria, remember to protect yourself against mosquitoes due to the risk of zika!

Boliviais a heaven for hiking lovers. Titicaca, the largest high-altitude lake in the world, offers unforgettable views. The Island of the Sun (Isla del Sol) and the Island of the Moon (Isla de la Luna) lying on the lake are strewn with buildings dating back to the Incan Empire, and the archaeological museum on the shore houses numerous interesting objects of historical value. In the vicinity of Sucre and Cochabamba, one can experience the true Amazon jungle and even encounter its permanent residents. The best time to visit Bolivia is the dry season, between May and October. Periods at the end or beginning of a season are still affordable and guarantee good weather conditions.

VACCINATION: against yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, as well as tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Depending on sanitary conditions of our base, it may also be advisable to get inoculated against cholera. A journey into a jungle poses a risk of (too) close interactions with predators – an anti-rabies vaccination is therefore recommended! Hiking at high altitudes brings us to the issue of altitude sickness prevention. Pharmaco-prevention for malaria is, however, indicated in the areas situated at <2500 m a.s.l. However, even if you take medication as prevention against malaria, remember to protect yourself against mosquitoes due to dengue and zika!

Perhaps a less traditional approach to the country traditionally associated with pilgrimages?  Israel is an excellent destination to visit in February, recommended for those who long for warm spring.

VACCINATION: against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, hepatitis A and B. Those planning to spend their time in harsh conditions, e.g. staying in a Bedouin camp, may want to get vaccinated against typhoid fever and poliomyelitis.

Who is dreaming of Africa? Mozambique is an original destination for those who prefer splendid beaches created by barrier reef and seek interesting yet quite safe places for scuba-diving. June and July are the months when good weather is guaranteed, but without the extreme African heat (approx. 30 degrees Celsius during the day). In August and September, tourists can enjoy excellent conditions for “bloodless safari” – it is easier to watch animals through drought-thinned vegetation. VACCINATION: against hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Active adventure seekers may also want to get vaccinated against rabies and cholera. It is necessary to introduce preventive measures against malaria and other mosquito-transmitted diseases (zika, dengue)!

Are you seeking really strong impressions? MaliandSenegal offer: the enchanting remnants of excellent cities built by the mysterious Dogon civilisation, the colourful contemporary folklore, the singing sands of the Sahara, the authentic African nature… However, Mali is still a truly extreme destination due to the still unstable political situation. However, the country is so beautiful and rich in historical gems that, in a few years’ time, when the political situation becomes stable, may become as popular as the much more peaceful Senegal. In terms of weather, it is advisable to plan a journey for December or January.

VACCINATION: against yellow fever, strongly recommended – against hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis as well as poliomyelitis; anti-rabies and anti-cholera vaccinations may also be useful. If we plan to stay for longer than a few days, do not resign from an anti-pneumococcus vaccination – as pneumococci cause meningitis and sepsis. It is even worth double-checking if we do not need, by any chance, immunisation against chickenpox – the level of health care is a far cry from the European standards. The need for pharmacological prevention of malaria is indisputable, similarly to the use of repellent products and anti-malarial bed nets to protect ourselves against mosquito-transmitted diseases.

So perhaps a better idea is to visit Scotland– Europe, cool climate, what might be the risks other than overeating on pudding and butter cookies? However, we should remember about the anti-hepatitis B vaccination, as well as against the ubiquitous tetanus (inoculation in a package with vaccination against diphtheria which “likes” eastern Europe and against the cosmopolitan pertussis). If we plan to admire beautiful castles in the autumn-winter period, it is advisable to get vaccinated against flu as well.

Summary:It is worth getting vaccinated against hepatitis A and typhoid fever earlier almost before each journey to destinations close to the equator and both tropics. As far as tetanus and pertussis are concerned – basically before journeys to places all over the world. Once completed, the vaccinations against hepatitis A, yellow fever or poliomyelitis guarantee protection for a very long time and can be safely administered, just in case, even a few years ahead. On the other hand, the vaccination against typhoid fever becomes effective as early as after 7 days, and the booster doses of the childhood vaccinations (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, poliomyelitis), as a matter of fact, immediately. There are also at least two popular anti-malaria drugs with very high efficacy, which are available over the counter in pharmacies. It is enough to start taking them 24h before landing in the danger zone. The prevention measures against venous thrombosis due to long flight can also be applied almost immediately.

IMPORTANT NOTE! Irrespective of the period and destination of your journey, staying at an international airport poses a higher risk of airborne respiratory tract diseases. Vaccinations protect us against flu, pertussis and diphtheria – let us take this opportunity!

IMPORTANT NOTE! Even if somebody is having a flight “tonight”, he or she may still pay a brief visit to a physician who specialises in travel medicine. S/he will provide some advice on how to limit, at least partially, the risk of bringing back an unwanted “souvenir”.

Comprehensive advice before a journey is more than just vaccines and prescriptions!

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