December 13, 2016
Sometimes the biggest threats come in the smallest sizes and without taking proper precautions you are putting yourself at risk while travelling. A Calgary Co-op Travel Health Pharmacist can help provide you with the vaccinations and medications necessary to ensure that mosquitos and Malaria don’t take a bite out of your travel experience.
Travellers are required to fill out an online questionnaire to help Co-op Travel Health Pharmacists determine potential Malaria risk through assessment of destination, time of year and amount of exposure to potentially infected insects, current medications, allergies as well as past travel experience.
“We start off with having the patient understand how important it is to decrease their chance of getting infected by Malaria on their trip,” said Calgary Co-op Travel Health Pharmacist Iljena Osakwe.
“We discus non-pharmacological methods first such as using insect repellents, nets and clothing strategies to avoid bites. We also talk about where these risks are such as the time of day and the exposure they are going to have outdoors, you can get mosquito bites indoors but where air condition is you are less likely to be bit by mosquitos.”
Where it’s appropriate Calgary Co-op Travel Health Pharmacists can prescribe Malaria tablets to take during trips which are generally started before entering a Malaria zone.
When a patient books an appointment at Co-op Travel Health Clinic they will be provided a personalized travel report outlining any potential risks as well as treatments and preventative measures that can be taken prior and during travel.
Another unseen risk that people face while abroad is travellers’ diarrhea which Ijenna says is unfortunately quite a common ailment with degrees of risk all over the world.
According to Ijenna, the number one piece of advice for travellers to prevent this uncomfortable ailment is hand hygiene.
“You begin with hand hygiene and that’s ensuring that you are washing your hands in purified and clean water and making use of hand sanitizers.”
Food preparation is another factor that Ijenna stresses travellers consider before deciding to eat out.
“Where travellers choose to have a meal, there may be contaminants on the food preparers,” said Ijenna. “This has to do with their protocols in the food preparation area, the utensils used and surface areas.”
“Travellers have to be particular and selective in what they eat and drink in order to help lower the risk of contamination.”
Ijenna advises that when a traveller is eating food that they haven’t prepared themselves that they ensure that the meal is hot.
“Nothing is 100 per cent but we want to lower and reduce risk as far as we can so by being selective about food choices, choosing piping hot food and avoiding food that is not cooked or not fully cooked.”
Fruits and vegetables can also contain bacteria that can cause travellers diarrhea as the water used to clean these foods may not be purified and may contain harmful contaminants. By selecting fruits and vegetables that require peeling you can help lower your risk for travellers’ diarrhea.
One pre-trip consultation with a Co-op Travel Health Pharmacist can help provide peace-of-mind through preventative treatments or anti-biotic choices to self treat while abroad.
“Our consults are basically an education session where we are letting the person know the risks and preventative steps that pertain to the itinerary and themselves,” says Ijenna. “We provide clients recommendations but at the end of the day it’s the travellers themselves that chooses which of the recommendations to take or not and whatever they want we are able to provide to them right then and there.”
For more information or to find the online pre-travel questionnaire visit the Calgary Co-op Travel Health website today or visit a Co-op Travel Health Pharmacist
- Adam Bowen
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