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Travel News March 2017



HE term VFR's is used by health professionals to describe a special group of people who travel abroad to stay with family or friends who live and or work abroad.

There are some worrying details about this particular group of travellers that need to be mentioned before travel is considered. Very often this group don't ask for the necessary travel advice, they think that they are not at risk of becoming ill abroad, travel at short notice, stay for longer and live closely with the local population. It is also known that these travellers do not seek out appropriate vaccinations and therefore they are at high risk of infection or disease.

If you are in this group of travellers and find yourself travelling to visit family and friends abroad please seek advice as soon as possible to have the necessary vaccinations and possibly malaria medication.

So lets consider that you are visiting family in India and you are staying in Bangalore - where your family have been living and working there for four years.

Let's say that you are a Northern Ireland resident and excited about this trip to visit your family in India. Sometimes you don’t always pay enough attention to your travel health and vaccinations. Travelling to India you are advised to have the basic vaccinations against Tetanus, diphtheria, polio, hepatitis A and typhoid. It may also be worth considering having the Rabies vaccination as this disease which is spread by a bite from any warm blooded mammal, especially dogs, is very high risk in India.

Hepatitis B is also a disease that is a risk in India. Hepatitis is a blood borne disease and is transmitted by infected blood transfusions, sexual intercourse from an infected person, body piercing, tattooing, or where infected needles, surgical or dental instruments have been used. The virus of this disease is passed on by a very tiny amount of blood so vaccination is strongly recommended.

Bangalore is in a very low to no-risk area as regards Malaria, however good bite avoidance measures should be followed and you can read the details on

Although Bangalore is at the lower end of the risk scale, should you consider travelling extensively in India you need to take Malaria medication. Your Travel Clinic can advise about this, provided you give them details of exactly where you are travelling - this will help them work out how many Malaria tablets you need. It is very important that you complete the course of Malaria tablets prescribed for you.

The website mentioned above has also got excellent information on care in the sun, food and water, hygiene, personal hygiene, first aid advice and travel insurance advice.

India is a country of 1.288 billion people, with New Delhi as its capital. The FOC website has excellent information on personal safety and security. There is a high risk of terrorism throughout India so UK travellers should be vigilant if visiting religious sites, markets and festivals.

Sexual assaults on women and girls are increasing so female travellers should exercise caution when travelling in India - even if they are travelling in a group. Females should also respect local dress code and customs. Be careful also when in lonely isolated areas such as beaches no matter what time of day it may be.

Take care of all personal belongings and important documents such as passports, and bank cards. Traffic accidents are very common. Several British nationals die on India's roads every year. If possible only travel by day, use a well maintained vehicle and wear a seat belt. If travelling by motorbike, wear a helmet and proper footwear. Swimming requires careful checking of tides and currents. Most beaches don't have warning flags or markers. Often too there is no life saving equipment. Travelling by boat can be risky too, ensure you do so with a reputable boat operator. A website recently had a few tips on how to act when visiting an India home. Here's a few: - In India footwear and feet are considered dirty. In most homes footwear is taken off outside the main door and the house is entered bare foot. - Do not attempt to hug or kiss anyone on the cheek unless it is initiated by the other person. - Always ask permission before taking photos of

the family.

- Asking questions about religion, culture, and beliefs is fine as long as you do not sound derogatory or condescending. To sum up, travelling abroad to visit your family or friends in a completely different culture is very exciting - just be aware though that there are risks of all types - both in your health and your personal safety. Seek out good professional advice from your GP or your local Travel Clinic as soon as possible from your date of travel.

TRAVEL HEALTH By HELEN JOHNSON The Taj Mahal is one of the most popular attractions in India Heat stroke and sickness top travellers’ complaints

AN ONLINE flight comparison company has discovered the top illnesses and injuries that British travellers have encountered on their holidays where they’ve had to seek medical assistance. According to the poll, travellers most typically seek first aid for heat stroke, flesh wounds and sickness and diarrhoea. Over two thirds of British travellers admit that they have had to seek medical attention for heat stroke, as new research reveals the most common causes for Britons too seek help for health problems while abroad.

Others have experienced flesh wounds while in the water or walking around barefoot, and others have come down with sickness and diarrhoea from drinking local water and getting food poisoning. The team at undertook the survey as part of an ongoing study into Britons experiences abroad whilst on their holidays. 2,381 Britons aged 18 and over, all of whom stated that they have been abroad at least once in the past two years, were quizzed about their holidays and if they had experienced any illnesses or injuries.

Initially all respondents were asked ‘During your holidays, have you either come down ill or picked up an injury?’ to which 55 per cent of respondents stated

that ‘yes’ they have, and the remaining 45 per cent stated ‘no’. Those who stated ‘yes’ were then asked if they’d had to seek medical attention or first aid for said illness or injury, to which three fifths of respondents (61 per cent) admitted that ‘yes’ they had. Wanting to delve a little deeper, all relevant respondents were then asked what illnesses or injuries that they had encountered throughout their holidays that led them to seek medical attention. When provided with a list of possible responses and told to select all that applied, the top five responses were as follows: 1. Heat stroke – 67%

2. Flesh wounds – 55% 3. Sickness and diarrhoea – 32% 4. Broken bones – 11% 5. Malaria – 4%

According to the poll, when asked how flesh wounds had occurred, the top responses were ‘walking around bare foot, either in the resort, on the beach or on the streets’ (39 per cent) and ‘stepping on sharp something in a pool/the sea’ (28 per cent). Furthermore, when asked how respondents suspected their sickness and diarrhoea came from, the top responses were ‘drinking local water’ (40 per cent)

and ‘food poisoning’ (21 per cent).

Wanting to determine if these were the types of illnesses and injuries that other Europeans were most likely to have encountered too, the survey polled 1,000 Europeans (a 25 per cent split across Italy, Spain, Germany and France) asking them to also state what illnesses they had encountered. When provided with the same list of possible responses and told to select all that applied, the most common holiday illness for Europeans were as follows: ·

· · ·

Italy – Sickness and diarrhoea (37%) Germany – Flesh wounds (30%) Spain – Sickness and diarrhoea (29%) France – Heat stroke (25%)

A spokesperson for commented: “It’s always a good idea to seek medical assistance when you’re abroad and find yourself ill or injured, but that being said there needs to be a level of common sense involved.

For starters, it’s easy to prevent heat stroke by wearing a hat, staying out of direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day, and staying hydrated, and you’re highly likely going to reduce the chance of flesh wounds by walking around with adequate footwear on.”


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