Pediatric infectious disease specialist Jason Harris, MD, answers questions about protecting your family from infections while traveling.
Traveling with Kids: How to prevent infections on vacation
Q&A with Jason Harris, MD
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Q: What are some common travel infections that kids might get when traveling?
It depends on whether the travel is international or domestic. For international travel, some common infections are malaria and traveler’s diarrhea, but there are other infections that depend on the exact destination. With local travel and people spending time outdoors, we think about things like tick-borne illness that are common on the Cape.
Q: What are some tips for preventing illness when traveling with kids?
It’s useful to know your own child. Based on your child’s medical history, you should be prepared for any recurrent problems your child might have.
Q: Should you call your pediatrician before traveling?
Before any international trip, it’s a good idea to touch base with your general pediatrician. Often times, especially for complicated itineraries, we recommend consultations with the MGHfC Pediatric and Family Traveler’s Advice and Immunization Center. These consultations should take place 4 to 6 weeks before travel for immunizations to reach full effectiveness.
Q: What should we expect with a visit to the MGHfC Pediatric and Family Traveler’s Advice and Immunization Center?
We typically check for routine vaccinations and go over whether any additional vaccines would be needed for the specific location of travel. We also will advise parents on whether any preventative medications would be indicated for the trip and go over general advice. You can reach the center for referrals or appointments at 617-724-6454.
Q: Are there any resources online that parents can check out to be aware of travel precautions?
The CDC has a wonderful site www.cdc.gov/travel that includes information on traveling abroad and specific tips for traveling with children. Global TravEpiNet, which is sponsored by the MGH and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has also developed a free web tool in multiple languages to inform travelers about preparing for overseas travel (www.gten.travel/trhip).
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