Thursday, June 6, 2013

As you plan for your summer vacation and prepare for much needed relaxation, it is easy to neglect important travel health and safety matters.  To promote a safe and happy summer vacation, take time to explore the vacation travel and safety tips referenced below: 
• Avoid drinking water from suspicious sources such as lakes, rivers, pools and back-country streams. You may be tempted to drink water from these sources while camping in the woods. However, it is important to be aware that this water may contain Giardia, a tiny parasite that can cause gastrointestinal distress which includes symptoms such as vomiting, cramps and nausea. Boiling water for 10 minutes or more can kill the parasite. Packing plenty of bottled water is an excellent way to stay hydrated and avoid potential parasites from suspicious sources.

• Food poisoning is a common illness that affects over 50,000 people who travel in the US and overseas. Eating contaminated or spoiled food may cause food poisoning so take a moment and think twice before devouring a sandwich that has been sitting out for several hours. Some tips in avoiding food poisoning include: cooking meat and fish sufficiently and making sure the fish is hot and cooked throughly when served. When traveling, it is a good idea to stay away from unpasteurized milk and milk products as they contain heavy amounts bacteria. Since bacteria quickly multiply at lukewarm temperatures, it is wise to consume foods that are very cold or hot. It is also a good idea to avoid buffets since it’s hard to know how long it has been sitting out or who is coming into contact with the food.

• Bug bites can lead to Lyme disease (in the case of a tick bite) or the West Nile virus so it is best to avoid grassy areas in the early morning and early evening hours when these critters proliferate. It is also a good idea to wear long sleeves and long pants and use a bug repellant (if possible) when walking in the woods to avoid bugs from getting on your skin. At the end of the day, be sure to check for bugs prior to changing your clothes. Do not approach stray animals, to avoid the risk of Rabies.
• Overexposure to the sun can cause sun poisoning/sunburn.  Long term f overexposure to the sun is the culprit behind 90% of wrinkles, fine lines and sun spots. To avoid the dangers of too much sun exposure, use a sunscreen that contains a minimum SPF of 15 and wear sunglasses that block 100% of UVA and UVB rays. The most severe form of UVA damage occurs between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. so use extra sunscreen at these times.

• Prevent rashes by avoiding common plants that harbor triggers such as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. These plants release a chemical called urushiol, an oil that produces rashes, bumps or blisters, even in small amounts. These plants can be found in forests, fields and on the side of streams. Should you develop a rash, use calamine lotion, hydro-cortisone cream or special creams that are used in the treatment of these skin conditions.

Armed with these pointers to prevent contracting summer illnesses, you are on your way to happy and healthy summer vacation!  

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