For many global business professionals, travel to other countries is a regular part of the job. Whether you’re attending trade shows, or meeting with clients, partners, or suppliers, face-to-face contact remains crucial, even as connecting via digital means has become easier than ever.
As you plan for one of these trips, you’ve got a lot to do: packing, travel and hotel arrangements, booking meetings, learning about other cultures or languages, and preparing presentations, contracts and all official documents, etc.
Amid all this busy preparation, there’s one more crucial thing that you must bear in mind: how to keep yourself healthy and protected from disease.
Zika virus is just the latest epidemic of many to watch out for
At the moment, when it comes to global health concerns capturing the attention of the media and general public, the Zika virus is at the top of the list.
The disease is primarily transmitted by mosquito bites, and is now linked to rising cases of microcephaly (a birth defect found in some children whose mothers were infected with Zika) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome in newborns.
The disease is now widespread in almost every country throughout Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean, and new cases have been reported in other nations worldwide.
Travellers are told to take precautions to protect against mosquito bites, especially if they are of childbearing age.
For the latest news on nation-specific outbreaks and general tips on how to prevent Zika infection during travel to countries where the disease is prevalent, Canadians can check the latest notices from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Americans can do the same via the CDC.
What other diseases and vaccinations do you need to consider before travelling?
Before your next business trip, be sure to check your vaccination records and confirm that they’re up to date. Also consider vaccine recommendations for regionally-specific viruses that may hamper your travel plans.
According to the WHO, the following are considered routine vaccinations:
- Hepatitis B
- Haemophilus influenzae type b
- Human papillomavirus
- Seasonal influenza
- Pneumococcal disease
- Poliomyelitis (Polio)
- Tuberculosis (TB)
You should also check the health advisories and your immunization records to see if vaccinations for any of the following diseases will also be required:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis E
- Japanese encephalitis
- Meningococcal disease
- Tick-borne encephalitis
- Typhoid fever
- Yellow fever
On top of Zika, protecting against mosquito bites can also mitigate your risk from diseases which do not currently have vaccines, like malaria, dengue fever, and West Nile virus. If you’re travelling to an area where malaria is a concern, bringing anti-malarial medication (which can be easily acquired prior to international travel) is always a good bet as well.
Where can I find more about the country I’ll be travelling to?
Canadians can consult the aforementioned Public Health Agency of Canada’s list of countries around the world for specific details on which diseases to watch out for in that country, which specific vaccinations to check or have updated, a breakdown of possible diseases by form of transmission (food/water, insects, animals, person-to-person) and related travel health notices.
You can also visit the Government of Canada’s travel health and safety page for travel health notices, information on where to find health clinics abroad, how to avoid diseases, vaccination and insect bite prevention, and other tips for healthy and safe travel around the world.
Americans can visit the CDC’s travel page mentioned above to get specific details on possible diseases and preventative measures to take by country, as well as travel health notices and public updates about outbreaks and vaccines.
Similar information can also be found for travellers around the world through the WHO’s international travel and health page.
It is also recommended to talk to a medical professional 4-8 weeks before travelling to discuss potential vaccinations, preventative measures and other precautions.
If you have not done so within that time period, you should still see or talk to a medical professional before travelling to be cleared for travel and get any last minute advice.