International corporate travel can be risky business. An employee who gets sick while traveling or who misses days of work upon return can mean a loss of productivity and a cost to your business.
“With proper preventative care and education, including vaccines and adhering to food and water safety guidelines, most travel-related illnesses and injuries are easily avoidable,” states Keith Armitage, MD, Medical Director of University Hospitals Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine.
The following recommendations can help you keep your employees healthy when traveling abroad.
- Always seek pre-travel advice from a travel medicine specialist who can provide a thorough itinerary review and counseling on vaccines, prescriptions, as well as food, water and insect precautions.
- Receive all required vaccines at a minimum of 4-6 weeks prior to the travel departure date. If malaria medications are needed, take the first one or two doses before leaving home so that if an adverse reaction occurs, an alternative regimen can be prescribed.
- Remember to pack your medications (over-the-counter and prescription), register with the U.S. Embassy in the country you are traveling to, and take a digital photo of your passport in case it gets lost or stolen.
- Consider purchasing trip insurance should you need to cancel or shorten a trip. Enrolling in a medical evacuation plan ensures coverage should you need medical transport. Consult with your organization’s travel manager or office to learn if these options are available.
Additionally, there are a number of online traveler resources and services available.
- During the flight, it helps to get up and move around to prevent blood clots. To minimize jet lag, avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Remember to take your daily medications, including any anti-malarial (if prescribed).
- Mosquitoes are known carriers for several diseases that cannot be prevented by vaccinations. Use insect repellent with DEET to protect against mosquito bites during travel.
- Only drink bottled beverages with unbroken seals. Do not brush your teeth with water from the tap. Remember that ice cubes are a potential source of contamination. Beer, wine, soda, hot tea and coffee are all safe.
- Avoid raw or uncooked foods, including salads. Do not eat street vendor foods and unpasteurized dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt) and choose fruits with thick skins that you can peel yourself. No matter how luxurious the hotel or conference center, it is important to take similar precautions.
- Follow common sense safety precautions, including sun protection, staying hydrated, frequent hand washing, and wearing seat belts. Avoid riding motorcycles and traveling in overcrowded public vehicles.
- Most travelers return well from overseas trips, but a few will have persistent diarrhea, fever, or in some other way feel unwell. The diagnosis and treatment of potential exotic and severe illnesses requires some expertise. Consult with a travel medicine expert, if you have any medical concerns or questions.
Taking care of the health and well-being of your employees before, during and after travel is not only an investment in your employee but an investment in your company.
Originally published on UHhospitals.org/blog.
To learn more about safety and security within your managed travel program, check out the Direct Travel Navigator Blog post: Key Components of Travel Risk Management & Duty of Care
About University Hospitals/Cleveland, Ohio
Founded in 1866, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of 18 hospitals, more than 50 health centers and outpatient facilities, and 200 physician offices in 16 counties throughout northern Ohio. The system’s flagship academic medical center, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, is affiliated with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Advancing the Science of Health and the Art of Compassion is UH’s vision for benefiting its patients into the future, and the organization’s unwavering mission is To Heal. To Teach. To Discover.
For more information on travel medicine, visit www.uhhospitals.org/travelmedicine. To schedule a pre-travel consultation (in person or via a virtual consult using a computer, lap top, or mobile device), call 216-844-8500. Note: Virtual pre-travel consults are only available within the state of Ohio. Travel smart. Stay healthy.
For more expert advice from University Hospitals, visit Healthy@UH.