With the holiday season approaching, people in Dumfries and Galloway are being urged to take a few minutes to think about staying healthy abroad.
Even if you aren’t planning a holiday until August, it is still important to start planning now, as vaccinations may take time to arrange – and more time before they become effective.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway public health consultant Andrew Rideout said: “It is always worth knowing the health situation in a country you’re planning on visiting. The right vaccinations can help keep you safe – and in some cases you’ll need up-to-date vaccinations to be able to enter the country at all.
“If you’re going somewhere with a risk of malaria, there are various prophylactic medicines which you can take in advance to reduce your chance of catching it. Simple precautions can also help you avoid insect bites, which can transmit many other diseases as well as malaria, and reduce your risk of catching disease from food or water.
“Getting sick overseas can ruin your entire summer. We are hoping that everyone planning to travel abroad this summer will take a few minutes now to learn how to stay healthy and enjoy their holidays.”
NHS Scotland’s travel advice website, FitforTravel (www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk) should be the first stop – it contains country-specific advice on vaccinations, other precautions, and tips on staying healthy while travelling.
Anyone who thinks they need travel vaccinations can contact one of the four participating GP practices in the region for an appointment. They are located in Dalbeattie, Glenluce, and the Greyfriars and Lochthorn practices in Dumfries. Full details about the four travel health GP practices are online at https://www.nhsdg.co.uk/travel
Many of the commonest vaccines for travel – cholera, Hepatitis A, typhoid, and the Revaxis vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and polio – are provided free through the NHS. Vaccinations and preventative treatment against other conditions which may be common overseas, but pose a smaller risk to the UK population on return, such as malaria, rabies, or yellow fever, will incur a charge.
Anyone travelling to an area where rabies is present should seek advice from a health care professional, who may recommend vaccination if the risk is particularly high. People going to particularly remote areas without medical care may be recommended for vaccination, as may people whose activities put them at higher risk – if they will be working with animals, for example, or jungle trekking or caving in areas where rabies is common.
Rabies is a rare disease, but very serious. Anyone who thinks they might be at risk can get more information from NHS Scotland’s rabies web page at https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/rabies/ and should ask a participating travel health GP about whether they need vaccination.