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Avoid respiratory illness while traveling

Avoid respiratory illness while traveling
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How to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading respiratory diseases on a trip abroad

There are many different types of respiratory illnesses that occur throughout the world and some of them can spread quickly, including the virus causing the current coronavirus pandemic.

For many people it is easy to shake off a respiratory illness, though you may need to take time off from work or leisure activities; but for anyone with an underlying health condition a respiratory infection can have devastating consequences.

By protecting yourself from contracting a respiratory disease while travelling you will reduce the risk of transmission to others. Here is our advice on how to avoid coronavirus and other respiratory diseases.

What is a respiratory illness?

A respiratory illness is any disease that affects the respiratory system – the lungs, airways and associated blood vessels and muscles that work together to move oxygen throughout the body and get rid of carbon dioxide. A respiratory illness makes it difficult for a person to breathe normally. Some cases can be fatal if not treated promptly.

How are lung and respiratory tract diseases spread?

These illnesses are spread through respiratory droplets expelled when coughing or sneezing.

What respiratory illnesses might I get while travelling?

There are a number of diseases you may be at risk from when travelling depending on where you are going and your access to healthcare. Some examples of illnesses are:

  • Coronavirus is an illness that can cause respiratory tract infections ranging from mild to severe.
  • Meningitis is a bacterial disease that can result in permanent nerve or brain damage, or septicemia if not treated promptly.
  • Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection of the lungs that can cause a long-lasting cough, fatigue and a swollen neck.
  • MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) affects the lungs and airways, causing a cough and fever. In a third of cases, patients with MERS-CoV will die.

Where am I at risk of respiratory diseases?

Covid-19 is a classified as a pandemic and is prevalent throughout the world. You must take precautions to protect yourself from this virus wherever you travel.

Other respiratory illnesses can be more specific to various countries and areas. You can find out whether you at risk from a respiratory illness in your country of destination by booking an appointment with a travel health nurse who can advise you. The Canadian Government’s travel advisories page also provides information on where it is safe to travel.

Are vaccines available for respiratory illnesses?

There are vaccines for some respiratory diseases, but not all. We advise that you visit a travel clinic six to eight weeks before you travel to receive vaccinations or boosters necessary for your trip.

A travel health nurse can also advise you on what precautions you should take at your destination.

What else can I do to protect myself from respiratory illnesses?

As these illnesses are spread through respiratory droplets, you can protect yourself and others through practising good respiratory etiquette, which you can read more about in our blogpost.

Following regulations and government advice, especially the guidelines on the current covid-19 pandemic, will help to reduce your risk.

If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus such as a new persistent cough, high temperature or change in taste and smell, do not travel. Isolate and apply for a test.

How do I make an appointment for travel vaccinations in Edmonton?

Canadian Travel Clinics can offer same-day vaccinations at our travel clinics in Edmonton. Make an appointment online right now.