As winter’s hold weakens, hopeful spring breakers will make their way to balmy beach resorts, rugged rain forests and coastal cruise ship destinations.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) wants you to be informed and make smart choices wherever your spring break plans take you.
The CDC Travelers’ Health website is a great first stop to make sure that you are proactive, prepared and protected when it comes to your health while traveling:
Before you go
- Find out about vaccines and any health concerns at your destination.
- Pack smart and prepare a travel health kit with the items you may need on your trip including medicines, condoms, sunscreen and bug bite protection.
- If you or your partner are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about your travel plans before beginning your trip.
- Check with your health insurance provider to find out about medical coverage outside the United States.
- Consider additional insurance that covers medical care and emergency evacuation, especially if you will participate in extreme sports or travel to remote areas.
- Make extra copies of your passport and other travel documents that you can leave with a family member or friend.
- Check the U.S. Department of State website for information on security risks. Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so the U.S. embassy or consulate can contact you in an emergency.
During your trip
- Be careful about indulging in the local cuisine. In developing countries, eat only food that has been fully cooked and served hot. Do not eat fresh vegetables and fruits unless you can peel them yourself.
- Drink only bottled, sealed beverages, and steer clear of ice—it was probably made with tap water. Get food and water advice in CDC’s Can I Eat This? app to avoid spending your vacation in the bathroom!
- Don’t leave your healthy habits at home – “what happens on spring break stays on spring break” may imply that taking risks is expected, but you should always play it safe when it comes to your health!
- Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex. Avoid getting tattoos or piercings to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
- Drink responsibly and be sure to have a designated driver. Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
- Adventure travel is most fun when risks are managed. Whether you are reef-diving, surfing, or zip-lining, depend on reliable and properly trained outfitters for success.
- Don’t be another statistic. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among healthy travelers.
- Remember the basics of safe driving – wear seatbelts, maintain the speed limit and avoid distractions like talking on the phone or texting.
After you return
- If you are not feeling well, see a doctor and mention that you have recently traveled. It is important to “think travel” whenever you don’t feel right after returning from a trip.
- If you have traveled to an area with Zika, take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks after your trip, even if you do not feel sick, so that you do not spread Zika to uninfected mosquitoes back home that can spread the virus to other people.
- If you have traveled to an area with Zika, use condoms for at least eights weeks (women) or six months (men) after travel to protect your sex partners from Zika.
- If you have traveled to an area with Zika and have a pregnant partner, use condoms correctly every time you have sex, or do not have sex for the entire pregnancy.
- To learn more about other recommendations for your specific travel destination visit the CDC Destinations website.
Take Precautions Against Zika
- Many popular spring break destinations throughout the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Pacific Islands and Mexico have a risk of Zika. The CDC has issued Zika travel notices with recommendations for travelers to destinations with this risk. Because Zika is primarily spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to any area with Zika protect themselves from mosquito bites. Sexual transmission of Zika also is possible, so you should use condoms every time you have sex or do not have sex during your trip.
- The CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika. Zika virus infection in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor before and after they travel and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
Source: Los Alamos Medical Center/Centers for Disease Control