Lured overseas by cheap flights? Remember travel health

A public health expert is urging Australian travellers to seek health advice before they travel overseas for holidays.


Australian residents made a record 9.9 million short-term trips overseas last year, according to data issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This is an increase of 5.3% or nearly half a million travellers from 2015.


A major contributor to this increase is the availability of cut-price airfares to destinations such as Bali, Indonesia, which remains one of the top three destinations for Australian residents.


New national research, recently presented at an Australian Travel Health Advisory Group meeting in Sydney, indicates two thirds of Australians travelled overseas at least once in the past three years, but only 41.2% of travellers had sought travel health advice before their most recent overseas trip.


Professor Peter Leggat from James Cook University said travellers should seek advice from their general practitioner or travel clinic preferably 6 to 8 weeks before they travel. This is to ensure they are adequately protected against the full range of potential infectious diseases related to their travel.


"Allowing enough time to ensure adequate protection is paramount for people travelling to at-risk destinations," Professor Leggat said.


"Last minute vaccination may not protect travellers against the full spectrum of infectious diseases, such as typhoid, hepatitis B and many others.


"While many people consider health risks, the risk levels change and seeking professional advice from a doctor is the best way to determine if there is a significant health risk for them."


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17 January 2019.