Latest Blog Posts
Why and what you need to know about diphtheria
With fresh outbreaks of the infection making the headlines, it is important travellers know everything they can about diphtheria before heading abroad. Diphtheria has seen news coverage recently due to fresh outbreaks across Haiti, and a shortage of the vaccination to prevent the infection in Venezuela. In Haiti, this has resulted in more than seventy cases, of which almost three quarters are children under the age of ten. This had led to three fatalities so far, whilst in Venezuela five lives have been lost due to a shortage of the vaccination. Incidents like this are tragic, and remind us how important it is to be up to date on our travel health. That’s why we’ve put together this vital and necessary guide to diphtheria, including what it is, what symptoms to look out for, and how the condition can be both treated and prevented. What is diphtheria? Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection which, as these incidents show, is potentially fatal. It mainly affects the nose and throat, as well as sometimes affecting the skin. It’s extremely rare in England as nearly all of us have been vaccinated against it, but when travelling to areas such as Africa, South Asia and the former Soviet Union, you need to be careful and take precautions. What are the symptoms of diphtheria? The symptoms of diphtheria can be uncomfortable, shocking and potentially fatal. One of the main signs of the infection is a thick greyish-white coating at the back of the throat. As a result of this, sufferers may also experience a sore throat and breathing difficulties. They may also experience a high temperature of 38C or above. Around one in ten people who get the diphtheria infection will die due to complications, which normally involve breathing difficulties, inflammation of the heart or problems with the nervous system. Older adults and people with a weakened immune system are more at risk of the effects of diphtheria. Children are also more susceptible to the infection and should be vaccinated against it at two months of age as part of the routine vaccination schedule. What causes diphtheria? As stated, diphtheria is extremely contagious. It is spread through coughs and sneezes, or through a person already affected or items belonging to them such as clothing and bedding. It’s usually caught after prolonged close contact with an existing sufferer of the infection, so people that you live with or remain close to whilst travelling could be the source of the infection. How do you treat diphtheria? The diphtheria infection must be treated quickly in order to prevent serious complications from occurring. Treatment is usually comprised of antibiotics and antitoxin medication, and anyone suspected of having the infection is put in isolation upon arrival at hospital. Those who develop heart or nervous system conditions will require specialist treatment. How can you prevent diphtheria? By far the best way to avoid and prevent diphtheria from occurring is to obtain the appropriate vaccination. For many of us, this occurs in childhood, but many places recommend reinforcing protection against the infection with a new diphtheria vaccination every ten years. This vaccination is available from Express Travel Clinic, and is administered as part of a booster vaccine against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio. Receiving this vaccination before you travel to at-risk areas is the only way to truly give yourself peace of mind against the infection. Make sure you don’t put yourself at risk. If you’re travelling far afield for your winter break, make sure you do it safely. Contact Express Travel Clinic today on 0208 993 5889 to book an appointment.
Hepatitis A & B vaccine shortage: How to stay safe when travelling to a country when the vaccine is not available
As many people will be aware, there is currently a national shortage of the Hepatitis A and B vaccines. As clinics around the country run out of stock, this can leave many travellers feeling at risk as they prepare to travel abroad. Earlier this year, a shortage of both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines was reported in the UK. The situation has continued to worsen and due to serious manufacturing issues, it has now been labelled a global shortage. Hepatitis A and B are acute infections of the liver typically caused by sanitation problems. Areas considered higher risk zones are South East Asia, Africa, India, China and South and Central America, so travelling to these locations is currently particularly risky. With no immediate end to the vaccine shortage in sight, travellers are being advised to take a number of precautions if they are travelling to high-risk parts of the world. Ideally, these should be taken alongside a vaccine, but regardless they are helpful for keeping you healthy on your travels. What precautions can you take abroad to reduce your risk of Hep A and B? Because both conditions are spread through sanitation issues, especially via food and drink which have been contaminated, there are several steps you can take to reduce your likelihood of catching or spreading the infection. Hand washing The simplest and arguably most effective way to reduce your risk of hepatitis is through thorough handwashing. You should always wash your hands after using the restroom, and especially after having any contact with someone who already has either infection. Food and drink awareness You should also avoid unclean food and water, and do your best to ensure the food you’re eating has been cooked and cleaned thoroughly. This includes avoiding dairy products, raw or undercooked meat and raw or undercooked fish. You should also avoid buying food from street vendors, and be aware that sliced fruit may have been washed in contaminated water — travellers should peel all fruit and veg themselves. Heated food should also be hot to touch and eaten right away. One of the most important precautions to take is to only consume bottled water. This not only includes for drinking purposes, but also for use when brushing your teeth. Ice cubes can also carry the infection. If no bottled water is available, tap water should be boiled for at least one minute, as this generally eliminates the virus and makes it safe to drink. Avoiding contact with bodily fluids Travellers should avoid contact with bodily fluids, especially blood. This includes avoiding unprotected sexual intercourse, avoiding tattoos, piercings and acupuncture, not sharing needles or any other injection equipment, and not sharing razors or toothbrushes. By following these precautions, you can significantly reduce your risk of catching and spreading both of these hepatitis viruses. With a widespread shortage of the Hepatitis vaccine, it is even more important to take extra care and attention of your holiday health while the recommended vaccination remains unavailable. You should always maintain your holiday health in every way you can, and we want to help you stay safe no matter where you go. Make sure to check out our range of available vaccines and health tips well before you travel abroad. If you have any queries relating to Hepatitis vaccines or any other vaccine, call on 0208 993 5889 and book an appointment at your nearest Express Travel Clinic.
Latest Blog Posts
- Why and what you need to know about diphtheria
- Hepatitis A & B vaccine shortage: How to stay safe when travelling to a country when the vaccine is not available
- 5 Travel essentials you might not think to pack but absolutely should
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