Make an appointment or stop by for a walk-in travel consultation with Kerry, our pharmacist certified in Travel Health. With your medical history and destination(s) in mind, he will provide you with medical advice and precautions and immunizations and/or medications appropriate to your destination(s) and activities.
In order to provide you with the best advice and care, please bring your vaccination history and a detailed itinerary for your trip. If possible, please fill out the Travel Consultation Form prior to the consultation.
Be aware that some immunizations do require multiple doses before they are effective. Book an appointment 4-6 weeks before your departure date to ensure that you will be protected before travelling.
No charge for the consult or any questions you may have.
If you choose to receive any vaccines and other medications, there will be a charge for the product you receive. There is no charge for the administration of any vaccines for those who are 5 years old and older. Unfortunately, pharmacists are not able to administer injections to children 4 years or younger.
The travel consult with Kerry will cater the medical advice specific to you and your destination. Online, we can provide you with some general information about travel health.
If you are going to an area with concerns about water sanitation, take a look at our handout on Food and Water Precautions. You'll want to review the Traveller's Diarrhea handout as well, in order to bring some medications in case you do experience any discomfort.
If you are going to any hot destinations, check out the Sun and Heat Precautions for some general considerations about protecting your skin from the sun and knowing the signs of heat illness. Often hot and humid destinations will have mosquitoes and other insects, review the Insect Precautions handout as well.
Travelling often requires being transported to another location. Sitting for extended periods on air planes, buses or cars can put you at risk of clots so review some preventative tips in Blood Clots and Travelling and consider wearing compression stockings.
Travellers who spend a long time sitting during travel are at a higher risk of developing a blood clot in their legs. Although less common, if the clot breaks off and travels to the lung or brain, it can cause a pulmonary embolism or a stroke. To minimize your risk, you should always take protective measures to avoid developing clots.
Being able to recognize the symptoms of a clot is helpful in order to seek immediate medical attention from a doctor or hospital.
Clot in leg (DVT): swelling, pain or tenderness in affected leg, skin is red and warm to the touch
Clot in lungs (PE): difficulty breathing, faster than normal heartbeat, chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply, coughing up blood
Clot in brain (stroke): sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, sudden confusion, inability to speak, blurry vision, loss of balance
Enjoying food and drink from different parts of the world is one of the most exciting aspects of travelling. Unfortunately, gastrointestinal infections from improperly prepared or unsanitary food is the most common illness amongst travellers leaving them travelling to the bathroom instead of enjoying their trip. Even if travellers are selective of their food choices, what is served may have been contaminated in the process of storage, preparation or handling.Food Recommendations
Many travel-related diseases are spread by infected insects such as mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, or flies. Before you travel, be aware of the insects at your destination that cause disease and know their peak biting times (day or night) and high-risk areas, such as indoors vs. outdoors or rural vs. urban.
To minimize your risk, you should always take protective measures to avoid insect bites and ensure you have the appropriate preventive vaccines and/or medications.
Cover up: Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved, loose fitting, tucked-in shirts, long pants, shoes or boots (not sandals), and a hat. In tick infested areas, you can also tape the cuffs of your pants or tuck them inside your socks, shoes or boots.
Use insect repellent on exposed skin: In Canada, insect repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin are the most effective. When used as directed, insect repellents have an excellent safety record. Repellents that contain icaridin (20%) should be the first choice for children aged six months to 12 years. Repellents containing age-appropriate concentrations of DEET should be considered as a second choice for children aged six months to 12 years.
In general, as the concentration of DEET or icaridin increases, so too does the period of bite protection. Currently, the maximum concentrations permitted for adult use in Canada are: 30% DEET or 20% icaridin. Products with less than 10% active ingredient may offer only limited protection, often 1-2 hours.
Follow the instructions by the manufacturer. Do not spray the product directly on the face or to cuts, abrasions or irritated skin. Wash your hands after application and avoid contact with lips and eyes.
Do not use products that contain both insect repellent and sunscreen. If you need to apply both sunscreen and repellent with DEET, apply the sunscreen first and let it soak into the skin for about 15 minutes, then apply the repellent.
When travelling to areas with a high risk of diseases spread by insects, reapply repellent when required. If you are being bitten but the time span noted on the label has not ended, it is recommended that you reapply the repellent.
After returning indoors, bathe or wash treated skin with soap and water. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly throughout the day or used on consecutive days. Wash treated clothing before wearing it again.
Consider your accommodations: Stay in a well-screened or completely enclosed air-conditioned room. Avoid staying in poorly constructed housing such as mud, adobe, or thatch (plant stalks or foliage used for roofing) structures. Check for ticks when returning from outdoor activities, and showering within 2 hours of being in a tick-infested area reduces the risk of tickborne diseases.
Sleep under a bed net, preferably treated with insecticide: Insecticide-impregnated nets either repel or kill the insects after they land on the net. They are safe for pregnant women and children. Make sure the net is intact, with no tears. Tuck it under the mattress. Make sure it is not touching you, as you could be bitten through the net. Daytime use is recommended, especially for playpens, cribs, or strollers to protect young children. Nets treated with insecticide will be effective for several months if they are not washed.
Wear permethrin-treated clothing for greater protection: Adult clothing pretreated with the insecticide permethrin can now be purchased in Canada. Children's permethrin-treated clothing is not available since permethrin has not been proven to be safe for children. Permethrin-treated clothing is effective through several washes.
Strong sunlight and extremely hot temperatures can be dangerous to your health. Health risks are greatest for older travellers, infants and young children, those who have chronic illnesses, difficulty breathing or are physically impaired.
Dress for the weather: Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made from breathable fabric. UV-protective clothing can offer an additional level of protection.
Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of cool liquids, especially water, before you feel thirsty to decrease your risk of dehydration.
Avoid sun exposure: Wear a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or use an umbrella.
Wear sunglasses: make sure they provide protection against UVA and UVB rays.
Limit your time in the sun: Stay indoors or seek shade between 10am and 4pm. Reflections off snow, water, sand and concrete can increase the effect of UV rays. Protect yourself on cloudy days, while swimming and skiing.
Use sunscreen: Broad spectrum sunscreen with a SPF30 or greater is recommended. Choose a product that is sweat and water resistant. Apply the sunscreen liberally 30 minutes prior to sun exposure, ensuring all exposed areas are protected. Reapply every 1-2 hours, after swimming, profuse sweating or towel drying. Wait 15 minutes before applying insect repellant.
|UV A Spectrum|
|UV B Spectrum|
Possible symptoms of sunburn include:
If you have been in the sun long enough to get a severe sunburn you may be at increased risk of heat illness. Some symptoms of heat illness are similar to sunburn so it is important to be aware of both to protect yourself.
While the symptoms are usually temporary, skin damage is cumulative throughout a person's life and can develop into serious long-term health effects, including skin cancer.
Some medications increase the risk of photosensitivity reactions. Medications that are especially concerning to travellers are some antibiotics, altitude sickness medications, blood pressure medications and anti-inflammatory medications. Talk to your pharmacist to determine if you are at risk.
Heat illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat edema (swelling of hands, feet and ankles), heat rash and heat cramps (muscle cramps). Heat illnesses can affect you quickly and are mainly caused by overexposure or overexertion in the heat.
Watch for symptoms of heat illness, which include:
If you experience any of these symptoms during hot weather, immediately move to a cool place and drink liquids. Water is best.
Heat stroke is a medical emergency! Call 911 or the local emergency number immediately if someone has a high body temperature and is either unconscious, confused, or has stopped sweating.
Enjoying food and drink from different parts of the world is one of the most exciting aspects of travelling. Traveller's diarrhea affects 30-70% of travellers depending on the destination. Bacteria are the most common cause, but viruses, protozoa and pre-formed toxins can also be responsible.
Symptoms may range from mild cramps and urgent loose stools to severe abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Depending on the responsible pathogen, it can last 2-7 days or even longer.
Prevent traveller's diarrhea by making careful food choices. Cooked food needs to be piping hot. Raw foods, such as salads or fruit, should not be washed with local water but bottled water. Avoid beverages that are made with local water or have ice added. See the Food and Water Precautions handout for more recommendations.
Most cases of traveller's diarrhea are mild and go away on their own. Antibiotics are reserved for treatment of moderate or severe cases of diarrhea. It is also very important to stay hydrated if experiencing any diarrhea. Bring along oral rehydration salt packets or make your own: 1L bottled/purified water + 1/2 teaspoon of salt + 6 teaspoons of sugar.
Diarrhea that is tolerable, not distressing and does not interfere with planned activities
|Treat with Loperamide (Imodium) or Pepto Bismol if needed.
Antibiotic treatment is not recommended.
Diarrhea that is distressing or interferes with planned activities
|Loperamide (Imodium) can be used along with prescribed antibiotic therapy.|
Diarrhea that is bloody, incapacitating or completely prevents planned activities
|Treat with prescribed antibiotics. Loperamide (Imodium) may be used as well.
Seek medical care if there is significant blood in the stools.