| February 26,
PENN Travel Medicine Predicts
Vaccine Request To Double in 2001 Due To Increased Globalization
health: don't forget to take it with you" is the motto
of the PENN Travel Medicine unit at the University of
Pennsylvania Medical Center's Department of Emergency
Medicine. There, Travel Medicine Director, William Shoff,
MD, has organized a one-stop-shop for all the vaccines,
prescriptions, counseling, insurance and health products
needed to travel anywhere in the world.
Exotic vacations have increased in popularity and economic
globalization is forcing American business to create
foreign markets. That means more people are getting
on boats and planes headed for Asia, Africa and South
America destinations that may have health risks. In
developing countries, travelers are at an increased
risk of contracting many preventable diseases including
cholera, typhoid, malaria, tetanus, yellow fever, chickenpox,
rabies, polio, whooping cough, meningococcal meningitis,
measles, Hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis, pneumococcal
pneumonia and influenza. Vaccines can prevent all of
these but malaria. Prophylactic medication and following
suitable insect precautions can prevent malaria. The
smart traveler headed for risky locations needs the
"The number of people using the PENN Travel Medicine
program last year was a little over 2,000," said Shoff.
This year, in 2001, we're probably going to see over
3,000, maybe 4,000, because we're expanding our services
and opening more offices. But only about 4 to 5% of
the people who are traveling to developing countries
are getting the medical service they need.
We should think in terms of preventing a catastrophe.
For example if I had a vaccine for an airplane wreck,
I don't think I would have trouble promoting it. Well,
we are talking about diseases that are more common than
plane wrecks and sometimes more fatal."
Penn Travel Medicine is up to date with vaccine recommendations
for each country, maintains a current list of the latest
disease threats. It also can make recommendations concerning
common ailments among travelers such as treating traveler's
diarrhea, give advice as to how to make dangerous water
safe for drinking, in addition to identifying what foods
to avoid, how to reduce insect bites and how to prevent
and treat altitude sickness above 8,000 feet. The organization
also maintains lists of English-speaking physicians
and phone numbers at numerous destinations abroad. For
those who return from overseas with symptoms, Penn has
the expertise to diagnose and manage them. In addition
to Dr. Shoff and Dr. Suzanne Shepherd at Penn Travel,
both diplomats in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Penn
has a number of specialists experienced in a variety
of tropical diseases.
Dr. Shoff also cautions that most American medical
insurance policies do not cover medically related problems
outside the United States. "If you're on a mountain
or in some remote location abroad and sustain a serious
injury, information regarding reliable, available medical
assistance and the location of western medical facilities
can be critical." So, in addition to providing pro-active
measures such as vaccines and medicines, PENN Travel
Medicine can provide a medical and evacuation insurance
policies that that respond to and cover accidents and
illness in foreign countries. This typically costs in
the range of about $70.
PENN Travel Medicine has expanded to six offices in
Philadelphia, Radnor, Collegeville, Spring House, Yardley,
Doylestown and the national network, Passport Health,
provides for "first class medical care for travel anywhere."
The one-stop number for all is: 1-800-789-PENN.
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