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The price of paradise: Aussie travellers’ ‘You Only Live Once’ attitude sees them coming home with more than souvenirs and a suntan

December 3, 2016 Business News No Comments Email Email

New research[i] shows Australians who travel to destinations with potential for contracting infectious diseases* are failing to consider pre-travel health and safety planning when engaging in risky activities they wouldn’t do at home.

‘You only live once’ was the attitude of travellers when they admitted they didn’t research precautions before eating food from a street vendor (42.1%), eating exotic foods (37%), or falling asleep outdoors (43.1%).

One third of travellers believe it’s better to invest their money in travel insurance rather than travel vaccinations and almost 50% are failing to have the recommended travel vaccinations for their trip. Alarmingly, over 60% are not consulting their doctor before heading overseas.

Travellers’ relaxed holiday attitude comes at a price both overseas and after returning home. Over 40% of Australian travellers admit to falling sick with potentially preventable health issues, such as sickness from food or drinking (non-alcohol), insect or animal bites or a contagious virus while overseas.

Of those who fell sick, 39% had to spend over $100 and up to $5000 on medical bills and treatment, 22% needed to take time off work because of falling ill and 21% claimed on travel insurance.

Travel health specialist and Sydney GP Dr Sarah Chu says the research findings are an important reminder for Australian travellers.

“Holidays are all about living in the moment. But many of the countries Australians love travelling to are considered high-risk for contracting infectious diseases, which means we need to be extra vigilant about preparing our health before departure, as well as while on holiday,” Dr Chu said.

“It’s quite common for travellers to think they’re safe if they’ve travelled to the destination before, or that travel insurance is enough protection and vaccinations aren’t needed, but I can assure you the risk of falling sick is very real and can happen to anyone” she said.

“Being careful what you eat, and getting prepared before you go by chatting to a doctor about recommended precautions, can go a long way to prevent you from getting sick in the first place,” Dr Chu said.

Dr Chu’s top tips for having a healthy holiday:

  • First step is to plan in advance and book an appointment with a GP or travel health specialist ideally six to eight weeks before you depart. If vaccines are required for your destination, you may need this much time to build immunity before you leave. If you leave it to the last minute, it’s still never too late to chat to a healthcare professional[ii]
  • Ask your GP or travel health specialist about the diseases you might be exposed to and recommended preventive measures you can take before you leave and while you’re on holiday. For example:
    • Hepatitis A and typhoid, which are contracted through contaminated food and water, can be prevented with vaccination.[iii],[iv]
    • Traveller’s diarrhoea, the most common travel-related illness, can be prevented by eating and drinking safely and keeping your hands clean.[v]
  • To avoid getting sick from contaminated food and water[vi]:
    • Always ensure that food is cooked and served hot to kill any germs.7
    • Stick to bottled water only and avoid drinks with ice as it is likely made with local tap water.7
    • Steer clear of raw fruit and vegetables, unless you can peel it yourself. This includes salads, as the finely chopped vegetables offer more surface area for germs to grow.7
    • Avoid raw or undercooked eggs which might be contaminated with salmonella. Ice cream and unpasteurised dairy products should also be avoided.7
    • Be wary of food from street vendors. Some stalls don’t comply with the same health standards we are used to.[vii]
    • Avoid mosquito bites by using an insect repellent at all times and wear long, loose- fitting, light coloured clothing.[viii]

[i] Survey developed by Sanofi Pasteur and conducted by Pure Profile, October 2016, completed by 1,004 Australian travellers who have travelled overseas in the last 10 years, to countries considered at-risk*.

[ii] Center for Disease Control, Travel Smart: Get Vaccinated, accessed October 2016

[iii] Center for Disease Control, Hepatitis A, accessed November 2016

[iv] Center for Disease Control, Typhoid, accessed November 2016

[v] Center for Disease Control, Travelers’ Diarrhea, accessed November 2016

[vi] Center for Disease Control, Food and Water Precautions, accessed October 2016

[vii] Center for Disease Control, Food and Water Safety, accessed October 2016

[viii] Center for Disease Control, Avoid Mosquito Bites, accessed October 2016

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