Ebola has become a hot topic in the news resulting in organizations, hospitals, and health systems scrambling to prepare for a possible case in our community. To St. Luke's Travel and Immunization Clinic, Ebola is old news. St. Luke's Travel and Immunization Clinic originated in March of 2009 when a need for travel medicine services was established in the Treasure Valley. Individuals come to the clinic for international travel all over the world. Some are going on vacation, missions, business trips, or to return to their country of origin to visit friends or family. You may ask, What is Travel Medicine and why would it be important to me? How can I protect myself and my family when I travel from diseases as simple as Tetanus to as complicated as Ebola?
Travel Medicine is devoted to the health of travelers who visit foreign countries. It is an interdisciplinary specialty concerned not only with prevention of infectious diseases during travel but also with personal safety and prevention of environmental risk. Travel medicine focuses primarily on pre-travel preventative care of persons and less on the diagnosis and treatment of illness acquired during travel.
Several factors have contributed to the establishment of Travel Medicine as a specialty field.
First, the number of travelers has increased, as have the length, frequency, diversity, and complexity of travel itineraries and activities. The number of travelers crossing international borders has more than doubled in the past two decades. The increase in global travel has lead to more frequent illness during travel and to instances of disease that is reported back to the country of origin. An example of this is measles imported to the United States by returned travelers and immigrants.
Second, there is an increased risk for acquisition of illness with travel. Two of the most important illnesses among travelers are diarrhea and malaria. Travelers should seek advise for prevention of traveler’s diarrhea, including food and water precautions, and know how to treat diarrhea if it occurs. For malaria, changing epidemiology and drug resistance in parasites have required travel medicine providers to be up to date regarding risk for malaria at destinations of travel, and specifics regarding treatment of malaria with appropriate antimalarials.
Third, there has been tremendous growth in the field of vaccinology with vaccines to prevent infections some of which are related to travel. Travel medicine providers will ensure their patients are up to date on routine, recommended, and required vaccines for travel.
Fourth, an awareness among healthcare providers that prevention of illness in travelers includes not only the provision of vaccines and appropriate preventative medications, but also discussion of topics such as personal behavior and safety during travel, prevention of altitude illness, and access to medical care in the event of illness. In addition, an important aspect of travel medicine is the need to advise the many travelers who are at the extremes of age, those with complex medical conditions, and ethnic travelers who travel to the country of their birth to visit friends and relatives.
St. Luke's Travel Medicine and Immunization Clinic is a unique clinic designed to provide travel medicine and immunization services. Travelers will receive up to date information on infectious diseases, preventative health, and environmental concerns information that is vital for their travel. Visit St. Luke's Travel Medicine Clinic, and have all of your travel health needs met at one location and in one comprehensive visit. Schedule your appointment today to have a safe and healthy adventure.St. Luke's Travel Medicine and Immunization Clinic
April Southwick, RN, NP, MPH, MSN is a certified adult and geriatric nurse practitioner. She has practiced with St. Luke's Occupational Health, and is involved in travel medicine. April is a member of the International Society of Travel Medicine and has a Certificate in Travel Health.