February 3, 2005
Vol. 24 No. 9

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    Clinics serve travelers

    By Katie O'Boyle
    Medical Center Public Affairs


    University students, faculty and staff members—and their children—who plan to travel abroad have a resource that can help them stay up-to-date on the required immunizations and aware of health precautions, especially when planning to travel in developing countries. The University Hospitals’ pediatric and adult travel clinics serve as a complete source for travelers’ health-related needs.

    The clinics, staffed by specialists in infectious diseases, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, offer customized treatment plans that are country- and region-specific. Services range from consultations and immunizations to preventative medicine and post-travel care treatment.

    The staff also offer suggestions about where to find medical care in case a person becomes sick while traveling, and offer guidelines about food and water safety as well as insect precautions.

    “It is a good idea to visit the travel clinic before traveling to areas where malaria, yellow fever and other life-threatening conditions are encountered,” said Jean-Luc Benoit, Director of the Adult Travel Clinic and Assistant Professor in Medicine. Destinations at the highest risk include Africa, Asia and South America, Benoit added, while the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean Islands have recently had outbreaks of dengue fever.

    “We stress that a visit to the clinic has to be done well before the intended travel time, ideally a month or more,” said Robert Daum, Professor in Pediatrics and Section Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. “People need to allow their bodies enough time to respond to the immunizations.”

    John Marcinak, Associate Professor in Pediatrics and Director of the Pediatric Travel Clinic, said it also is important that children are current on routine immunizations, such as measles. He said many areas of the world still experience outbreaks of measles, which can be deadly.

    Vaccines for hepatitis A, typhoid fever and yellow fever are the more commonly administered shots, Marcinak said. Information also can be obtained from the travel clinic about how to avoid common travel ailments, such as traveler’s diarrhea.

    To schedule an appointment with the pediatric travel clinic, which serves those who are 21 and younger, call (773) 702-3853. To contact the adult travel clinic, call (773) 834-9900.