Jet-setting Australians plagued by travel sickness
New research shows that Australian travellers are losing precious holiday time as they’re not aware of the health risks associated with travel.
Travellers who fell sick on their last trip to an ‘at-risk’ destination spent about one-third (31%) of their holiday bedridden or unwell.
While Aussies are travelling to ‘at-risk’ destinations including South East Asia, South and Central America, Africa and the Middle East in record numbers, new research, commissioned by Sanofi Pasteur, shows that many (42%) aren’t getting health advice that could protect them against serious travel-related diseases.
These diseases include hepatitis A, rabies, typhoid fever and yellow fever, which have the potential to ruin holidays and leave people with long-term symptoms.
Impact of illness and pre-travel attitudes
In the last year, over half (58%) of Aussie travellers who fell ill on their last trip took between 1-3 days off work as a result of a travel-related illness.
Surprisingly, 3 in 5 Australian ‘at-risk’ travellers have never thought about bringing an illness home and more than half (55%) incorrectly believe they can’t expose their loved ones to diseases unless there are obvious symptoms.
The study also revealed that 84% of travellers to ‘at-risk’ destinations are more likely to purchase travel insurance than receive necessary vaccinations. Some 34% incorrectly thought vaccinations weren’t needed for the countries they visited and 19% didn’t believe they were at risk of a disease while travelling.
Travel health specialist, Dr Bernard Hudson, a Sydney Infectious Diseases Specialist, is urging people to get the right health advice at least six weeks before they travel.
“Holidaymakers who prioritise itineraries over their own health are putting themselves and potentially those around them at risk, especially if they’re visiting high risk destinations” he said.
“The reality is, no one wants to be bedridden on holiday, have to take time off work when they return or spread a travel-related disease to their loved ones.”
“It doesn’t take much to get the right health advice before you take off.”
Aussie traveller, Jonathon Tait, didn’t seek travel health advice before jet-setting to Sri Lanka for a surf trip and fell ill with a fever that left him bedridden for three days.
After being bitten by mosquitoes, Jonathon believed he may have contracted a severe travel illness, especially because he had not sought any preventative health advice before travelling.
“I was much more interested in planning the trip itself than looking after my health which led me to think the worst when I did get sick. Not only did I waste time in bed on holiday but I was also forced to call in sick to work once back home. In hindsight, I should have seen my doctor before I left and I can only take my experience as a learning curve. I wouldn’t risk it again,” admitted Jonathon.
What to do
Dr Hudson said his advice is simple, “see your GP or a travel doctor preferably 6 weeks prior to departure to get the right advice before you go. However, there are some vaccinations and anti-malarials that can provide protection for last minute travellers.”
“Depending on your destination you may need medication, vaccinations or other advice. Make it a top priority, just as you would your plane tickets and insurance.”
- Lonergan Research, Sanofi Pasteur & Travel Vaccines 2017 Research Report, May 2017. Lonegran surveyed 1,042 Australian adult ‘at-risk’ travellers, in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Overseas arrivals and departures, Australia. cat. no. 3401.0 Canberra: ABS March 2017. Available at www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3401.0Mar%202017? [accessed 12 May 2017]
- Department of Health 2011, Travel health information, Australian Government, viewed 15 May 2017, http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-quaranti-index.htm#return
26 July 2017.