Stay healthy and be prepared on your travels.

Make an appointment or stop by for a walk-in travel consultation with Kerry, our pharmacist certified in Travel Health. With your medical history and destination(s) in mind, he will provide you with medical advice and precautions and immunizations and/or medications appropriate to your destination(s) and activities.

In order to provide you with the best advice and care, please bring your vaccination history and a detailed itinerary for your trip. If possible, please fill out the Travel Consultation Form prior to the consultation.

Be aware that some immunizations do require multiple doses before they are effective. Book an appointment 4-6 weeks before your departure date to ensure that you will be protected before travelling.

Fees

No charge for the consult or any questions you may have.

If you choose to receive any vaccines and other medications, there will be a charge for the product you receive. There is no charge for the administration of any vaccines for those who are 5 years old and older. Unfortunately, pharmacists are not able to administer injections to children 4 years or younger.

Travel Information

The travel consult with Kerry will cater the medical advice specific to you and your destination. Online, we can provide you with some general information about travel health.

If you are going to an area with concerns about water sanitation, take a look at our handout on Food and Water Precautions. You'll want to review the Traveller's Diarrhea handout as well, in order to bring some medications in case you do experience any discomfort.

If you are going to any hot destinations, check out the Sun and Heat Precautions for some general considerations about protecting your skin from the sun and knowing the signs of heat illness. Often hot and humid destinations will have mosquitoes and other insects, review the Insect Precautions handout as well.

Travelling often requires being transported to another location. Sitting for extended periods on air planes, buses or cars can put you at risk of clots so review some preventative tips in Blood Clots and Travelling and consider wearing compression stockings.

Detailed Precautions

(click each header below to find out more about these common traveller's precautions)

Travellers who spend a long time sitting during travel are at a higher risk of developing a blood clot in their legs. Although less common, if the clot breaks off and travels to the lung or brain, it can cause a pulmonary embolism or a stroke. To minimize your risk, you should always take protective measures to avoid developing clots.

Who's at risk?
  • Air travel, less so with train, bus or car travel
  • Previous personal or family history of a clot
  • Clotting disorder
  • Recent surgery or hospitalization
  • Using estrogen containing birth control or menopause therapy
  • Current or recent pregnancy
  • Older age
  • Obesity
  • Active Cancer
  • Congestive heart failure or inflammatory bowel disease
  • Limited movement
Preventing Clots
  • Get up occasionally and walk around.
  • Do exercises while you are sitting:
    • raise and lower your heels while keeping your toes on the floor
    • raise and lower your toes while keeping your heel on the floor
    • tighten your leg muscles
  • Wear properly fitted compression stockings
What to do if you get a clot?

Being able to recognize the symptoms of a clot is helpful in order to seek immediate medical attention from a doctor or hospital.

Clot in leg (DVT): swelling, pain or tenderness in affected leg, skin is red and warm to the touch

Clot in lungs (PE): difficulty breathing, faster than normal heartbeat, chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply, coughing up blood

Clot in brain (stroke): sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, sudden confusion, inability to speak, blurry vision, loss of balance

Enjoying food and drink from different parts of the world is one of the most exciting aspects of travelling. Unfortunately, gastrointestinal infections from improperly prepared or unsanitary food is the most common illness amongst travellers leaving them travelling to the bathroom instead of enjoying their trip. Even if travellers are selective of their food choices, what is served may have been contaminated in the process of storage, preparation or handling.

Food Recommendations
  • Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
  • Raw food is a common source of contamination.
    • Undercooked and raw meat, fish and shellfish can carry various intestinal pathogens and should be avoided.
    • Avoid salads, uncooked vegetables, and unpasteurized milk and milk products, such as cheese.
    • Cooked food that has been allowed to stand for several hours (such as at buffets) can become contaminated and harbour bacteria. Be sure to thoroughly reheat before serving.
  • Washed and peeled fruit is acceptable. Avoid fruit that you do not normally peel, such as grapes and berries.
  • Food and beverages from street vendors is associated with a higher risk of illness.
  • Use alcohol-based hand cleaners (with min. 60% alcohol) before eating.
Beverage Recommendations
Safest Choice
  • carbonated soft drinks
  • carbonated water
  • boiled water
  • purified water (iodine or chlorine)
Probably Safe
  • fresh citrus juices
  • bottled water
  • packaged or machine-made ice
Unsafe
  • tap water
  • chip ice
  • unpasteurized milk
  • fountain drinks
Hygiene
  • Brush your teeth with purified or bottled water
  • Water may look clean but could still be polluted or contaminated. You can get sick if you inhale or swallow it while bathing, showering or swimming. Try to avoid getting water into your mouth or nose when swimming or participating in activities in freshwater (streams, canals, lakes) or water in pools or hot tubs, which may not be adequately treated.

Many travel-related diseases are spread by infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, or flies. Before you travel, be aware of the insects at your destination that cause disease and know their peak biting times (day or night) and high-risk areas, such as indoors vs. outdoors or rural vs. urban.

To minimize your risk, you should always take protective measures to avoid insect bites and ensure you have the appropriate preventive vaccines and/or medications.

Protect yourself from insect bites:

Cover up: Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved, loose fitting, tucked-in shirts, long pants, shoes or boots (not sandals), and a hat. In tick infested areas, you can also tape the cuffs of your pants or tuck them inside your socks, shoes or boots.

Use insect repellent on exposed skin: In Canada, insect repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin are the most effective. When used as directed, insect repellents have an excellent safety record. Repellents that contain icaridin (20%) should be the first choice for children aged six months to 12 years. Repellents containing age-appropriate concentrations of DEET should be considered as a second choice for children aged six months to 12 years.

In general, as the concentration of DEET or icaridin increases, so too does the period of bite protection. Currently, the maximum concentrations permitted for adult use in Canada are: 30% DEET or 20% icaridin. Products with less than 10% active ingredient may offer only limited protection, often 1-2 hours.

Follow the instructions by the manufacturer. Do not spray the product directly on the face or to cuts, abrasions or irritated skin. Wash your hands after application and avoid contact with lips and eyes.

Do not use products that contain both insect repellent and sunscreen. If you need to apply both sunscreen and repellent with DEET, apply the sunscreen first and let it soak into the skin for about 15 minutes, then apply the repellent.

When travelling to areas with a high risk of diseases spread by insects, reapply repellent when required. If you are being bitten but the time span noted on the label has not ended, it is recommended that you reapply the repellent.

After returning indoors, bathe or wash treated skin with soap and water. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly throughout the day or used on consecutive days. Wash treated clothing before wearing it again.

Consider your accommodations: Stay in a well-screened or completely enclosed air-conditioned room. Avoid staying in poorly constructed housing such as mud, adobe, or thatch (plant stalks or foliage used for roofing) structures. Check for ticks when returning from outdoor activities, and showering within 2 hours of being in a tick-infested area reduces the risk of tickborne diseases.

Sleep under a bed net, preferably treated with insecticide: Insecticide-impregnated nets either repel or kill the insects after they land on the net. They are safe for pregnant women and children. Make sure the net is intact, with no tears. Tuck it under the mattress. Make sure it is not touching you, as you could be bitten through the net. Daytime use is recommended, especially for playpens, cribs, or strollers to protect young children. Nets treated with insecticide will be effective for several months if they are not washed.

Wear permethrin-treated clothing for greater protection: Adult clothing pretreated with the insecticide permethrin can now be purchased in Canada. Children's permethrin-treated clothing is not available since permethrin has not been proven to be safe for children. Permethrin-treated clothing is effective through several washes.

Strong sunlight and extremely hot temperatures can be dangerous to your health. Health risks are greatest for older travellers, infants and young children, those who have chronic illnesses, difficulty breathing or are physically impaired.

Sun safety tips

Dress for the weather: Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made from breathable fabric. UV-protective clothing can offer an additional level of protection.

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before you feel thirsty to decrease your risk of dehydration.

Avoid sun exposure: Wear a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or use an umbrella.

Wear sunglasses: make sure they provide protection against UVA and UVB rays.

Limit your time in the sun: Stay indoors or seek shade between 10am and 4pm. Reflections off snow, water, sand and concrete can increase the effect of UV rays. Protect yourself on cloudy days, while swimming and skiing.

Use sunscreen: Broad spectrum sunscreen with a SPF30 or greater is recommended. Choose a product that is sweat and water resistant. Apply the sunscreen liberally 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, ensuring all exposed areas are protected. Reapply every 1-2 hours, after swimming, profuse sweating or towel drying. Wait 15 minutes before applying insect repellant.

Sunburn

Sunburn is caused by overexposure to UV rays.
Spectrum Characteristics
UV A Spectrum
  • Does not cause sunburn
  • Associated with photosensitivity reactions, premature aging and skin cancer
  • Present throughout the day
  • Penetrates the skin deeply
  • Passes through window glass
  • UV B Spectrum
  • Most responsible for sunburn and skin cancer
  • Strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Blocked by window glass
  • Possible symptoms of sunburn include:

    • Red, tender skin that is warm or sensitive to the touch
    • Blisters that develop hours or days later
    • Peeling skin on sunburned areas several days after the sunburn

    If you have been in the sun long enough to get a severe sunburn you may be at increased risk of heat illness. Some symptoms of heat illness are similar to sunburn so it is important to be aware of both to protect yourself.

    While the symptoms are usually temporary, skin damage is cumulative throughout a person's life and can develop into serious long-term health effects, including skin cancer.

    Some medications increase the risk of photosensitivity reactions. Medications that are especially concerning to travellers are some antibiotics, altitude sickness medications, blood pressure medications and anti-inflammatory medications. Talk to your pharmacist to determine if you are at risk.

    Heat Illness

    Heat illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles), heat rash and heat cramps (muscle cramps). Heat illnesses can affect you quickly and are mainly caused by overexposure or overexertion in the heat.

    Watch for symptoms of heat illness, which include:

    • dizziness or fainting
    • nausea or vomiting
    • headache
    • rapid breathing and heartbeat
    • extreme thirst (dry mouth or sticky saliva) and
    • decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine

    If you experience any of these symptoms during hot weather, immediately move to a cool place and drink liquids. Water is best.

    Heat stroke is a medical emergency! Call 911 or the local emergency number immediately if someone has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused, or has stopped sweating.

    Enjoying food and drink from different parts of the world is one of the most exciting aspects of travelling. Traveller's diarrhea affects 30-70% of travellers depending on the destination. Bacteria are the most common cause, but viruses, protozoa and pre-formed toxins can also be responsible.

    Symptoms may range from mild cramps and urgent loose stools to severe abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Depending on the responsible pathogen, it can last 2-7 days or even longer.

    Prevent traveller's diarrhea by making careful food choices. Cooked food needs to be piping hot. Raw foods, such as salads or fruit, should not be washed with local water but bottled water. Avoid beverages that are made with local water or have ice added. See the Food and Water Precautions handout for more recommendations.

    Most cases of traveller's diarrhea are mild and go away on their own. Antibiotics are reserved for treatment of moderate or severe cases of diarrhea. It is also very important to stay hydrated if experiencing any diarrhea. Bring along oral rehydration salt packets or make your own: 1L bottled/purified water + 1/2 teaspoon of salt + 6 teaspoons of sugar.

    Treatment Recommendations for Traveller's Diarrhea
    Mild Diarrhea
    Diarrhea that is tolerable, not distressing and does not interfere with planned activities
    Treat with Loperamide (Imodium) or Pepto Bismol if needed.

    Antibiotic treatment is not recommended.
    Moderate diarrhea
    Diarrhea that is distressing or interferes with planned activities
    Loperamide (Imodium) can be used along with prescribed antibiotic therapy.
    Severe diarrhea
    Diarrhea that is bloody, incapacitating or completely prevents planned activities
    Treat with prescribed antibiotics. Loperamide (Imodium) may be used as well.

    Seek medical care if there is significant blood in the stools.

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