American Society of Travel Agents urges healthy travel for consumers

rge number of those surveyed by ASTA are unsure or misinformed about how some common travel diseases, including malaria (47 percent) and vaccine-preventable hepatitis [(hepatitis A (67 percent) and hepatitis B (92 percent)] are transmitted.

"The good news is that malaria and vaccine-preventable hepatitis can be prevented with medication or vaccination," said Dr. Karl Neumann, travel health expert and director of Travel Medicine Clinic in Forest Hills, New York. "Because many travelers don't realize that they may be at risk for certain diseases while traveling, it's important that they see their healthcare professional before they embark on their trips to learn more about how to protect themselves."

The World Health Organization named malaria one of the most serious threats to international travelers, yet only 8.4 percent of those surveyed who had traveled to malaria-endemic countries took anti-malarial medications to protect themselves. In addition, a large number of U.S. travelers who had visited countries with a risk of vaccine-preventable hepatitis (VPH), hepatitis A and hepatitis B, were not immunized against these diseases, which can seriously damage the liver and may potentially be disabling or fatal (hepatitis C is not a vaccine-preventable disease). In fact, 66 percent of respondents who had visited countries with hepatitis A risk were never vaccinated against the disease. Nearly as many (58 percent) travelers who had visited countries with hepatitis B risk had never received a hepatitis B vaccine.

"These survey results highlight the importance of consulting a physician about the right protection against malaria and vaccine preventable hepatitis before traveling overseas," said Dr. Neumann. "To prevent malaria, the physician may recommend an antimalarial medication, such as Malarone, which is an option for the last minute traveler, since the regimen needs to be started only two days before departure. The physician may also recom

Contact: Paul Kenjarski
Cohn & Wolfe

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