This Week's Links
Vacation or Vaccination? back to TTN home page
by Joe Harkins - Oct 07, 98
Last year, more than 500,000 travelers from the USA became injured or ill in a foreign country. Most incidents were inconvenient, not life-threatening but preparation and advance information might have avoided many of them. Last week’s column, described private Travel Health Clinics.
Its a pleasant surprise how well government-built web sites are doing their job of informing travelers and delivering health and safety information to pre-travel care providers. One of the most useful Internet sources for that purpose is the Center for Disease Control. Click on the graphical travel map to drill down to data about your destinations health and safety issues.
The publications page of US State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs offers handsomely laid out descriptions and links. Dozens of informative booklets and brochures you once had to order via mail and wait for weeks to receive are now online for immediate use.
The Travel Publications page is especially rich in links to documents on travel preparation. While some of the links dont seem, at first glance, to deal with travel health, keep in mind that avoiding hassles contributes to your sanity.
I remember the time my ex-wife lost her passport in Amsterdam after 5PM on the Friday evening preceding a four-day Dutch national holiday. Had I been as knowledgeable then as I am now about the difficulties she would have had, without my help, in proving her identity as an American citizen so she could leave town with me, I could have left her there as an undocumented alien, thus sparing myself grief in the years that followed. But thats another story.
Some of the more interesting reports online include detailed advice on Caribbean countries. This seasons hurricanes have done serious damage to some destinations and spared others. Pay particular attention to disease breakouts that may follow due to disruption of local services.
Background Notes are brief, factual pamphlets describing the countries of the world. You may print out those that interest you. They contain current information on each country's people, culture, geography, history, government, economy and political conditions. Updates of Background Notes are delivered automatically via email if you register.
Travel Warnings, as the phrase implies, are more serious. These are issued when the State Department decides to recommend, based on all relevant information, that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Those same countries also are the subjects of Consular Information Sheets about the issues that cause official concern.
Thinking of bringing a pet along on an extended foreign trip? Let your browser find the help you need for Bowser. Considering how well all these other government built sites are designed, your curmudgeonous columnist, JoeTravel, probably should thank the US Army Veterinary Service for giving him something to complain about. That web site designer needs to learn how a menu works. Check with the Consulate of your destination country as early in your trip planning as possible because the vet page may be out of date.
In the absence of a menu on that site you still can avoid the long scroll. In Microsoft Internet Explorer or the new AOL 4.0 browser, go to the menu at the top of your page. Click on Edit. Select "Find (on this page)" and enter a keyword. Netscape has a similar feature, also under Edit.
Your Uncle Sam isnt the only one watching over you. The World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations is sort of an international version of the USAs Center for Disease Control. My only caution is that you consider all that information, especially the Related Links as a tool to avoid health problems while traveling, not as an excuse to avoid going.
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