In addition to getting vaccinated, travellers must use repellents, long-sleeved clothes, drink clean water and eat properly cooked food to avoid contracting any diseases while visiting other countries, a physician from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has advised.
“All travellers are counselled at our clinics to take precautions about food- and water-borne diseases. They can be affected by diseases such as travellers’ diarrhoea, hepatitis C, cholera and typhoid. We also advise them to use safe water and food,” Dr Mohamed Abdulla Abukhattab, senior consultant, travel medicine at the Travel Clinic - Communicable Disease Center (HMC), told Gulf Times.
“We ask them to drink bottled water, boiled water or adding water purifiers. We also advise them not to eat salads because of the water and avoid eating raw food without washing with bottled water. It is also important in some cases to avoid direct contact with water to prevent bilharzia. Travellers should eat freshly cooked food to avoid gastroenteritis,” noted Dr Abukhattab.
“To avoid mosquito bites, travellers should wear long sleeves especially at night, and apply mosquito repellents on the exposed areas of the body. It is highly recommended that they sleep under mosquito nets to avoid mosquito bites," explained the physician.
According to the official, the Travel Clinic at HMC is up-to-date with all relevant developments and has information about all types of diseases in different parts of the world. Therefore, it is important for a person to approach the clinic post-travel in case of any diseases.
“We know every day what is going on in other parts of the world and can diagnose the cases accordingly. The history of travel is very important and it is part of our education programme,” he described.
The Travel Clinic was started at HMC in February 2017. “When we see a patient, we assess the risk of the disease depending on multiple factors, including the age, chronic disease that the patient might have, history of previous vaccination, the traveller's current medical condition - whether s/he has any illness at present and the medication s/he is having, and the purpose of travel,” Dr Abukhattab pointed out.
“The risk of contracting any disease depends on the destination of these travellers. It varies depending on the destination. Risks may differ even in the same country. In the same country, we need to know the specific destination in that country and the activities the traveller would undertake,” he highlighted.
Dr Abukhattab said all basic vaccinations are available at the Travel Clinic, including vaccines for influenza, pneumococcal, meningococcal, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella, among others.
“There are also other special vaccines that are only available in our Travel Clinic such as Japanese encephalitis vaccine, tick-borne encephalitis vaccine, cholera and typhoid vaccines, among others. Malaria medications are also available only at the HMC’s Travel Clinic,” added the official.