Travellers failing to seek health advice
Travellers failing to seek health advice

Travellers risk picking up serious diseases overseas by not seeking medical advice before they leave home, doctors have warned.

More than three in five Australians do not visit their doctor to ask for health information before going away, researchers from the University of Sydney's Family Medicine Research Centre say.

By not doing so when visiting destinations with a risk of infectious diseases, globetrotters could come back home with unwanted souvenirs like rabies, hepatitis A and B or typhoid fever.

"The consequences can range from losing a few days of the trip to gastro or the flu to ending up in hospital with a serious disease," said Dr Conrad Moreira, medical director of the Travel Doctor TMVC clinic in Sydney.

"Clearly most people who travel won't get any serious illness but the main message is that these things are preventable."

There are some eight million short-term overseas trips made by Australians every year, he added.

Only 30 per cent of the 670 who took part in the research project had gone to their GP before going overseas.

This is despite the fact that in high-risk areas like some parts of South East Asia there is up to a 50 per cent chance of getting ill while abroad.

"The risk depends on the destination as well as the type of person travelling," added Dr Moreira.

"Certain groups of travellers are at higher risk of infectious diseases, including pregnant women, children, people with impaired immunity and immigrants returning to their country of origin to visit friends and relatives."

Doctors advise that travellers make an appointment with their GP or at a travel clinic between six and eight weeks before they are due to go away.

The West Australian

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