Many of our readers know Dr. Sarah Kohl as a pediatrician who works in our Pediatric Alliance — Chartiers/McMurray Division. You may not know that Dr. Kohl is also the medical director of TravelReadyMD. She frequently reminds us that traveling anywhere in the world has its health risks. We have many families who travel to India to visit their families and Dr. Kohl has some advice for them:
It is important to remember that when returning to India, children do not have immunity to local Indian illnesses; instead they have immunity to local American illnesses. Likewise, parents who have lived away from India for awhile have declining immunity too. So the whole family needs to prepare for a delightful, healthy trip ‘home’.
While it is important that children are up-to-date with their immunizations, it is also extremely important that their parents are up-to-date as well. How many readers are sure when they last received a tetanus booster? Was it more than 10 years ago? Did it have the pertussis component? How about Hepatitis A? How about typhoid? Just because you grew up in India doesn’t mean you’re immune:
Typhoid is particularly common in India. Adults and children 24 months and older visiting their family and friends should be immunized against it. The vaccine needs to be boosted every 2- 5 years depending upon type of vaccine used.
If you travel to India, you will probably need to protect yourself and your family from mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and dengue with the use of anti-malarial prophylaxis and mosquito-repellents.
Dr. Kohl reminds us that infectious diseases aren’t the biggest health risks that international travelers face:
[…] the biggest health risk worldwide remains car travel. This is especially true in India where car accidents are common. I highly recommend using seat belts and taking car seats with you to use. This requires some advanced planning as many cars in India are smaller; your existing car seat may not fit in the family car.
Read more about travel to India on Dr. Kohl’s TravelReadyMD blog here. If you or your family are planning an international trip, I’d encourage a consultation with her before you travel. Consider it insurance on a healthy and happy journey!