How to medically prepare for international travel

How to medically prepare for international travel

James Jordan thumbs through hand-written notes from children in an African orphanage.

"That's a very, very powerful thing," Jordan said.

"These children that have literally nothing, some of them don't even have parents, but the joy they have in their life is extremely apparent," Jordan said. He befriended these joyful kiddos on a mission trip with his employer, Betenbough Homes. He's been on three treks to Africa with his family of five.

"We have young children also at home and we wanted our children to see what's happening on the other side of the world," Jordan said. Before departing, Jordan knew he needed to guard his family's health. That's where disease expert and TTUHSC Professor Dr. Ronald Warner comes in.
 
"First of all, where will you be going? Second of all, how long will you be there? Thirdly, what will you be doing while you're there?" Dr. Warner said. After answering those three simple questions, he has a better idea of how to treat the traveler.

"I sort of have a risk profile in my mind about what they need in the way of vaccinations or antimalarials," Dr. Warner said. Certain countries come with bigger risks.

"Most of the countries across the central part of Africa have many risks. Malaria being a big one, and yellow fever is also a problem," Dr. Warner said. There are also insect-borne diseases.

"Tics, mosquitoes, fleas," Dr. Warner said. Sometimes there's no protection available.

"Although they might be vaccinated against hepatitis b and typhoid, we have no vaccination for E. coli or giardia," Dr. Warner said. The potential dangers can seem a little daunting for some, but not for Jordan and his family.

"We weren't really concerned about health," Jordan said. "You're careful with what you eat, make sure you wash your hands."

He was also up-to-date on standard immunizations and followed the doctor's orders.

"They recommended typhoid and yellow fever," Jordan said. Thankfully, no illnesses were brought back home. Only memories, photographs, and hand-written letters.

"It's impacted our children in a big way," Jordan said. 

Altitude sickness is another concern for travelers, but Jordan said they didn't experience any problems on their 10 day trip.

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