Travel Clinic for Study Abroad
Bucknell Student Health provides travel physical examination and immunizations for students going abroad. Please call us at 570.577.1401 to schedule your appointment.
When traveling abroad, there are some very important safety concerns you should be aware of before you leave and while you are abroad. Note that not all of these concerns apply to every country. While this is a fairly comprehensive list of the general concerns for international travel, it is always important to learn what specific health and safety issues are problematic in the country you will be visiting.
Before You Travel ...
Contact your doctor, clinic, or local or state health department regarding immunizations and malaria prophylaxis at least 6 - 8 weeks before travel, earlier if possible.
Obtain enough refills of prescriptions to last the entire trip. If you wear glasses or contacts, take along a second pair and take your lens prescription with you.
- Physician's Letter
If you take a narcotic or more that two medications, ask your physician for a letter that describes your medical condition and lists the generic name and dosage of each prescription. If you require routine injections, carry a physician's letter detailing your condition and the need to carry needles and syringes for medical purposes. Take written prescriptions with you.
- Travel Insurance
Check your medical insurance or HMO policy to determine the extent of your coverage while abroad. If your insurance has territorial exclusions or if you are covered by Medicare, consider purchasing travel insurance that will pay for transportation to a U.S. hospital if you become seriously ill or injured. A travel agent should be able to help you with this.
- Medical Directories
The directory published by the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, IAMAT, contains lists of English-speaking doctors who are on duty 24 hours a day and have a set fee schedule. Visit www.iamat.org.
While You Are Abroad ...
- Medical Care Abroad
If you have no medical directory and you require medical attention, contact a major community hospital, medical school, or the local American Consulate or Embassy.
- Preventing Travelers' Diarrhea
In most developing countries, you must be careful about what you eat and drink. Poor sanitation, lack of refrigeration, and unchlorinated water can expose you to organisms that cause travelers' diarrhea and other problems. The "Dos and Don'ts" below can help you make safe choices about the beverages and foods you consume.
- Treatment for Diarrhea
Consume plenty of liquids to replace fluids and salts lost in watery stools and vomiting. Avoid solid foods and dairy products for 24 hours. Take Pepto-Bismol or Imodium to help reduce cramping and to control diarrhea when there are no bathrooms nearby, but follow label directions and do not take these medications for more than 3-5 days. Use Pepto-Bismol with caution if you are taking aspirin or are sensitive to aspirin.
- Preventing Aids and Other STDs
Use latex condoms during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Purchase condoms and a spermicide or water-based lubricant before you leave the United States. Do not use intravenous drugs or share needles. Tattoos, acupuncture treatments, and injections for medical or dental procedures may be risky because equipment may be contaminated.
Avoid the use of locally produced immune globulin and blood-clotting factors in countries where the blood supply is not routinely tested for communicable diseases. If a blood transfusion is necessary, contact the nearest American Embassy/Consulate for advice.
- Protection from Mosquitoes
The best protection against malaria is "Don't get bitten!" Mosquitoes are most active during dusk and dawn, on cloudy days, and in shaded areas. Wear long-sleeved tops and long pants and use plenty of mosquito repellent containing at least 30% concentration of DEET. Sleep under mosquito netting if your lodging has unscreened windows or doors.
- Protection from Other Insects
Always wear shoes to protect against hookworm, fungus, jigger flea, and other infections. Shake out your shoes before putting them on to get rid of any insects.
- Protection from Parasites
Avoid swimming or wading in fresh-water lakes and streams. They may be infested with a parasite that causes schistosomiasis - a disease that can damage your internal organs.
- Pack a First Aid Kit that contains the following:
Insect repellent (30% DEET)
Moleskin for Blisters
Pepto-Bismol or Imodium
Ibuprofen or Tylenol
Cold and cough remedies
Sunscreen or sun block
Anti-fungal and anti-itch agents
Antibacterial cream or spray
Bee sting kit (if allergic)
Some Important Things to Look Out For:
Choose These Beverages:
Tea and coffee (made with boiled water)
Bottled/canned beverages whose seal you break yourself
Local water purified by you or that you know has been adequately chlorinated
Choose These Foods:
Well-cooked meat, fish, eggs, rice, vegetables (eat while still hot)
Fresh baked goods - breads, rolls, unfilled pastries
Raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts with intact skins and shells (peel yourself or soak in mild chlorine solution of 1/2 tsp. chlorine bleach to a quart of water for 15 minutes and air dry on a clean surface)
Purify Your Water:
Heat Treatment: boil vigorously for 10 minutes (the most reliable method of purification)
Chemical treatment: Chlorine bleach - use 4-6% concentrate, add two drops per quart or liter of clean water, double dosage for cloudy water, let stand 30 minutes. Tincture of Iodine - two drops per quart or liter clear water, double dosage for cloudy water, let stand 30 minutes
DO NOT Choose These Beverages:
The local water
Ice cubes made with local water
Drinks served by the glass
All milk products
DO NOT Choose These Foods:
Foods derived from milk
Raw fruits and vegetables not cleaned or peeled by you
Foods left standing at room temperature, e.g., buffet foods, cold-meat platters, custards, filled pastries
Raw or undercooked meat, fish, shellfish
Foods prepared by street vendors
*Taken from "Health Hints for the International Traveler." a 1989 Boynton Health Service, University of Minnesota.