27 DEC 2011: Nobody knows better than the good doctor on combating travel health issues. So as the holiday season is upon us with many clients anxiously awaiting to head south to tropical climates for a much needed break, there’s also the thought of way too many umbrella drinks, ice cubes, and undercooked veggies that need some consideration too. That’s why I met Dr. Aw.

In the heart of Chinatown adjacent to stalls laden with dried mushrooms, ginger root and other so-called elixirs lies the new fabulous Hotel Ocho, our setting to get serious about travel preparedness.

The medical director of the International Travel Clinic who has practiced travel health medicine for over 20 years says the sickness that get’s number one top billing of course is the almighty ailment many call “turista” a.ka. traveller’s diarrhoea. You’re bed-ridden, frequently run to the toilet, and are not the life of the party by any means.

What is Travellers’ diarrhoea? (T.D)

We know it’s a common medical condition which is caused by a not-so-nice bacteria that loves to be found in contaminated food or is transmitted by water. E. Coli bacteria, which cause the majority of cases of travellers’ diarrhoea can include poorly cooked meat, contaminated raw vegetables or unpasteurized dairy products, and no food group can be regarded as “safe.”

‘It’s better to be safe than sorry,” says Dr. Brian Aw, a Canadian physician specializing in travel health as he addressed an intimate group of travel media, listing some of the worst reasons we end up feeling crappy when we’re supposed to be feeling our best immersed in sun and sand.

What are the symptoms?

It suddenly hits. Many experience abdominal pain and diarrhoea. You will most likely spike a fever, have nausea, and vomiting, Dr. Aw says T.D. affects about one-half of travellers who visit Mexico, the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Eastern or Southern Europe during a two-week stay.

Here’s a low down on the Travel Trots:

The Public Health Agency of Canada reports planning ahead is key to prevent travellers’ diarrhoea, which affects about one-half of travellers who visit Mexico, the Caribbean and other regions during a two-week stay.

A recent survey revealed that one-in-three Canadian vacationers have experienced, or have travelled with, someone who has experienced, travellers’ diarrhoea.

A recent poll by Leger Marketing indicates that not being able to enjoy time with friends and family (35 per cent) and wasting the money spent on vacation (24 per cent) ranked among the biggest concerns about having travellers’ diarrhoea.

Traveller Preparedness

So how can you prepare?

Dr. Aw explains one vaccine has been around for several years but not many people are aware of this. “Despite concerns about the impact of travellers’ diarrhoea on holiday vacation plans, only one in five are aware a preventative vaccine is available,” he said.

“It is important that Canadians learn about how to protect themselves from travellers’ diarrhoea by asking a healthcare professional about a preventative vaccine, such as Dukoral, and also making sure they know the risks and what to avoid when on vacation during the holidays,” he says, and adds Dukoral is also available as an oral vaccine good in the prevention of and protection against travellers’ diarrhoea and cholera, and is available with or without a prescription.

“It is administered orally as a drink, taken in two doses with the first dose at least two weeks before departure, and protects against travellers’ diarrhoea for three months,” he concludes.

What is Dukoral?

Dukoral is intended to help prevent travellers’ diarrhoea caused by ETEC and/or cholera in adults and children two years of age and older. It does not treat travellers’ diarrhoea once it develops. Not everyone who gets vaccinated will be fully protected; therefore, precautions to avoid contaminated food or water should be taken. Side effects may include gastrointestinal upsets, such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting, due to a bicarbonate buffer used with this vaccine, and allergic reactions may occur.

Visit www.dukoralcanada.com for complete information.

For more information from Dr. Aw visit www.drbrianaw.com or call 905-884-7711

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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