International Travelers Unaware Of Serious Infectious Diseases

With the deadly SARS virus making headlines and disrupting travel around the world, international travelers must now be aware of the threat of infectious diseases when they travel abroad. The failure to prevent infectious diseases can endanger both the traveler and their community when they return home.

A new survey conducted by The European Travel Health Advisory Board finds that most international travelers are unknowingly putting themselves at risk for serious diseases. The survey results were presented at the Conference of the International Society of Travel Medicine on May 8.

According to the survey:

  • Four out of 5 travelers from the U.S. are not aware of the most common vaccine‑preventable disease among travelers ‑ hepatitis A. 
  • More than half of those surveyed were unaware of the risk of malaria at their destination‑a disease that the World Health Organization deemed the most serious threat to travelers going to risk areas. 
  • Although the majority of those surveyed felt that vaccines provide essential protection, only 1 of 3 travelers was vaccinated against hepatitis A. 
  • Nearly half (4 out of 10) of travelers going to areas with a high risk of malaria did not carry anti‑malarial medication

Experts say the key to a healthy vacation is to find out what specific health risks you face in your travel destination and to see your doctor to get reliable health advice. More than half of travelers from the U.S. surveyed did not seek travel health information.

To learn more about the destination‑specific health risks, please visit the World Health Organization's website.