How to stay healthy on your vacation

WASHINGTON – Vacationers can take steps to protect their health while traveling and make the most out of those coveted days off.

“You have to be careful about the sun and the heat,” says Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

“This is something that sometimes we just forget about. Then you wind up getting ill and you’re not sure what it is. And it’s actually dehydration or the effects of the sun,” Fauci says.

When preparing for a trip, vacationers should find out what potential ailments could greet them.

Dengue fever, for example, is a rare mosquito-borne illness typically found in South America and the Caribbean, but cases have been reported in central and south Florida in recent years.

Fauci notes that Dengue and chikungunya are mosquito-borne ailments for which there is no preventive pill or vaccine. Travelers who might be exposed to those diseases should take steps to protect themselves from mosquitoes, Fauci says.

There is preventive medicine however to help ward off mosquito-borne malaria. Fauci highly recommends travelers consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s user-friendly guide to potential ailments specifically tailored to the country, family situation or modes of travel.

Prescription medicine issues also are easy to prepare for but frequently overlooked.

“If you’re going to go on an extended trip, make sure you have enough medications and you have an extra refill on your prescriptions,” Fauci says.

Fauci emphasizes that people taking critical medicines for issues such as high blood pressure or diabetes should carry a doctor’s prescription with them in case they run out of their medication or it is lost while traveling.

Common sense can also avert vacation ailments. Travelers in an area where the safety of tap water isn’t guaranteed should avoid drinks prepared with local ice, and avoid eating salads that might have been washed in tap water.

And Fauci advises to “always wash your hands frequently.”

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