As we move into August, everyone wants to get in a summer vacation before Labor Day. There’s no better way to bring your Travel-Medicine_Reducedvacation to a screeching halt than an encounter with an infectious disease, which is unfortunately a likely occurrence.

In summer 2015, nearly 200 million Americans are planning a vacation – almost 85 percent of American are planning at least a one week getaway. According to the New York Times, traveler’s diarrhea is the most common health problem a traveler encounters, but there are others lurking as well.

Going on a cruise? You’ve probably read the stories about what happens when the notorious norovirus comes along for the ride. But norovirus isn’t just for cruise ships anymore – it’s now causing problems on tour buses.  In August 2014, a survey of bus drivers in Yellowstone National Park showed  that five buses were carrying passengers who had diarrhea or vomiting — both symptoms of norovirus.

Going on a plane? Hopefully you won’t be as unlucky as Samuel L. Jackson who encountered numerous Snakes on a Plane; however, you will most definitely come across Pathogens on a Plane.With recirculating air and forced close proximity, airplanes have a bad reputation as hotbeds of disease.

How can you avoid the perils of summer travel, from an infectious disease standpoint?

  • Research the area you’ll be visiting. Are there any disease risks or outbreaks? Do you need specific immunizations in advance? Check of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention travel page for the latest info. Remember, disease outbreaks don’t just happen in other countries. Right now, in the U.S., high-risk areas for Lyme disease are growing, particularly in the Northeast and upper Midwest. And measles is resurging. According to the CDC, there were 11 measles outbreaks in the U.S. in 2013; in 2014, that number rose to 23.
  • Practice good hand hygiene: According to the CDC, keeping your hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness. Need a refresher on how to wash your hands? Hint: hum the “Happy Birthday” song all the way through.

Enjoy your vacation and avoid tagalong travelers by taking precautions against infectious diseases!