Press Association writer Lisa Salmon looks into a new campaign which is urging Brits to remember to seek advice before travelling.
If you’re visiting a country where there’s a risk of serious illness, such as malaria, yellow fever and rabies, you’ll need to take necessary precautionary steps before jetting off.
The number of British people venturing beyond Europe and North America has more than tripled in the past 30 years - yet a new survey by Sanofi Pasteur suggests only 17 per cent of UK holidaymakers get a travel health risk assessment before going abroad, despite these being easily available from GP surgeries, private health clinics and pharmacies.
Media GP Dr Christian Jessen and adventurer Ben Fogle have teamed up with Sanofi Pasteur on a campaign to encourage everybody to seek travel health advice while planning their trips.
You should ask if your GP surgery provides the service, and useful information includes Travel Health Pro (travelhealthpro.org.uk), NHS Fit for Travel (fitfortravel.nhs.uk) and Smarter Traveller (smarter-traveller.co.uk).
Dr Jessen outlines five reasons for taking travel health advice before you head on holiday.
1. Some diseases have no treatment and can be fatal
Diseases such as malaria kill millions of people around the world every year. Even a bad case of gastroenteritis, diarrhoea and vomiting can leave you dehydrated and susceptible to other illnesses. Get a travel health risk assessment before travel, so you’re aware of all the potential risks and how to mitigate them.
2. You could bring a serious illness back with you, infecting friends and family
Your illness may be contagious, and you may be putting your family and yourself at further risk. If you think you might have an infectious illness, like diarrhoea, it’s paramount you maintain high standards of hygiene, such as consistent hand-washing and ensuring you have clean towels. If you have more than one bathroom, it’s best to commandeer one all to yourself.
3. You could be at risk of travel-related disease even in a posh hotel
Ice is still made from local water, food is imported into the resorts, and mosquitoes can fly - so the standard of accommodation makes no difference to risk.
4. Areas of risk can change - never assume you don’t need vaccinations for your trip
Seek the latest travel advice to ensure you’re fully protected.
5. You might need proof of vaccination against certain diseases before you enter or leave some countries
It’s sometimes a legal requirement to ensure you have certain vaccinations before entering countries. If you’re unsure, book a travel health risk assessment to help protect you against travel-related illnesses.