Definition of Travel medicine

Travel medicine: A branch of medicine that specializes in diseases and conditions that are acquired during travel. Travelers to different countries should be aware of the potential for acquiring diseases and injury which are not common in their own country. Immunizations, preventative medications, and general precautions should be considered prior to trips to different parts of the world.

Immunizations against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, meningococcal meningitis, rabies, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and others may be recommended or required for travelers to certain countries.

Preventative medications against traveler's diarrhea, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases may be necessary.

Precautions regarding foods, beverages, weather, insect bites, and personal hygiene are important while traveling. Patients with underlying medical diseases, such as kidney disease and diabetes, may need special arrangements in order to travel safely.

International travel and health vaccination requirements and travel health advice are available through the World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters, Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response (CSR), CH-1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland. WHO has excellent information currently including:

Guide on Safe Food for Travelers
International Certificates of Vaccination
International Health Regulations
International Medical Guide for Ships
International Travel and Health
Ports Designated in Application of the International Health Regulations
Yellow Fever Vaccinating Centres for International Health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States also excellent information including current travel medical recommendations and requirements for different areas of the world. A convenient graphical map is provided. Additional information concerning disease outbreaks and general health advisories are also furnished.

The field of travel medicine grew out of emporiac medicine, the subspecialty of tropical medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tropical diseases which travelers might encounter.

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