Traveling abroad this summer? Check with the travel doctor first


Closeup on medical doctor woman listening globe with stethoscope

Summer’s just around the corner. The kids will soon be out of school, and the weather is screaming “vacation.”

Every year some 12 million Americans travel overseas during the months of June, July and August. If you are among those planning a summer adventure abroad, it’s a good idea to visit a travel health specialist before you leave the country.

“You want to make sure you stay healthy and safe before, during and after your vacation,” says Dr. Dorothy Contiguglia-Akcan, a travel medicine specialist at FIU Health.

travel medicine doctor Dorothy Contiguglia in white doctor's coat

Dr. Dorothy Contiguglia-Akcan is a travel medicine specialist at FIU Health.

Here are some health concerns she says you need to know if traveling out of the country this summer.

Measles: There have been outbreaks worldwide of this harmful, yet preventable viral infection. A review of your childhood vaccine records and a possible booster may be recommended prior to your travel.

Hepatitis: Hepatitis A, which has been making a comeback in the United States, can also be contracted abroad, especially when visiting areas where there is poor sanitation.
A vaccine for Hepatitis A is available and should be administered prior to travel. Hepatitis B can also be prevented with a vaccine.

Malaria: The World Health Organizations lists 91 countries and territories at risk of malaria transmission. There is no working vaccine for malaria, but there are preventative medications which can be prescribed to travelers.

Infectious diarrhea: This infection is common and can, at the very least, put a damper on travel plans. Sometimes it can be dangerous. Antibiotics can be prescribed prior to travel, in case of a severe infection.

Travel medicine specialists focus on preventing and treating illness and injury in travelers. “Depending on your overall health, destination and planned travel activities, there may be avoidable risks to your health,” says Contiguglia-Akcan who is certified by the International Society of Travel Medicine. “We can assess your particular risks and provide preventative recommendations, medications and vaccines. We can also manage travel-related illnesses or injuries upon your return.”

The FIU Travel Medicine Program and Clinic serves students, faculty and staff, and the general public. It is located on FIU’s main campus on the first floor of the Ambulatory Care and Surgical Center next to PG5 (open Monday through Friday). To make an appointment, call 305-FIU-DOCS (305-348-3627).