Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist December 2012 Contents Australian Pharmacist December 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 943
Based at the PSA Canberra office, Andrew
Daniels is Managing Editor of Australian
It is easy to forget when travelling
overseas that not everywhere is the
same as Australia. The water may not be
as pure, diseases unknown in Australia
may be present and health services may
not be as easy to find and access as here.
That's the bad news, and according to travel
doctors many intending travellers do not
seek professional health advice before
travelling overseas, leaving them at risk of
picking up all sorts of nasty bugs, bites and
diseases. They have called on pharmacists
and other health professionals to encourage
soon-to-be travellers to get travel health
advice before leaving.
Researchers from the University of Sydney's
(U/Syd) Family Medicine Research Centre
who conducted the BEACH sub-study
between May and June 2012 found more
than three out of five Australians are not
seeking professional health advice before
travelling overseas, even though many visit
destinations carrying a risk of infectious
diseases, including hepatitis A and B, typhoid
fever and rabies.1
While it may seem a bit far-fetched to be
concerned about rabies, Professor Ward, the
Chair of Veterinary Public Heath and Food
Safety at the University of Sydney who is
conducting research to identify how rabies
spreads and the risks of future outbreaks,
recently said that that during the past 10 to
15 years rabies has spread to areas of eastern
Indonesia that were previously rabies-free,
including Bali. In 2010, the disease reached
the Tanimbar Islands, part of the Moluccas,
just 350 kilometres north of Australia.
Dr Briggs pointed out that in Bali, a popular
tourist destination for many Australians, there
have been deaths from rabies.
Given there is up to a 50% chance of
experiencing a travel-related illness,2
doctors have urged international travellers
to seek professional health advice before
The BEACH sub-study, conducted between
May and June 2012 in collaboration with CSL,
analysed the international travel patterns,
travel health behaviours and pre-travel
vaccination rates of a sample of 102 GPs with
2,995 patient respondents nationwide.1
Of the 670 research respondents who had
travelled in the previous two years and
answered the question, only 30% obtained
travel advice from a GP before departure,
while only 4% sought advice from a travel
clinic. In addition, a low proportion of
patients were fully vaccinated before
travelling to an at-risk destination for
infectious diseases, including hepatitis B,
typhoid, and hepatitis A infections.1
Dr Conrad Moreira, public health physician
and Medical Director of the Travel Doctor --
TMVC, Sydney, said that pharmacists were
in a very good position to provide travellers
with a full range of items that they need for
the trip: allergy treatments, anti-diarrhoeals
and so on.
He said one important component of
travelling is managing the risks associated
with the trip, and a good starting point when
a pharmacist identifies a traveller is to send
them on to their GP for advice or send them
on to a travel specialist.
'It is also important that, apart from providing
medications, pharmacists reinforce that
travellers should get all the appropriate
'While many people are travelling to relatively
safe destinations such as Europe and the US,
an increasing number of people are travelling
to higher risk destinations such as South
America where they need vaccinations such
as hepatitis and typhoid.
'Australians are travelling in record numbers,
making almost eight million short-term
overseas trips a year, with Indonesia the
country's second most popular travel
destination.3 However, a ticket to Indonesia
carries the risk of a mild infection with
travellers' diarrhoea or "Bali Belly" through
to serious infectious diseases, such as rabies,
hepatitis A and malaria,'4 he warned.
'Complacent travellers may not only be
risking infection with gastrointestinal, insect
and blood-borne diseases while overseas,5
but potentially spreading these diseases
across international borders, through their
travel patterns and behaviours.6
'When it comes to overseas travel, prevention
is infinitely better than cure,' he said.
Travel doctor and Medical Director of Dr
Deb -- The Travel Doctor, Brisbane, Dr Deb
Mills says that the health consequences of
travelling overseas can range from trivial to
'Certainly, only a few travellers get really ill.
However those who seek pre-travel advice
are better placed to avoid illness and look
after their health while away. Wise travellers
are armed with a medical kit, vaccinations
and information to help them stay healthy.
Many precautions are simple with the right
knowledge, for example, avoiding food
and water diseases and bed bugs, and
protecting against altitude sickness,' Dr
Dr Mills says that while each traveller has
individual requirements depending on
where they're going and what they'll be
doing, as a general rule, it's advisable to see
a travel doctor or GP at least six to eight
weeks before departure.2,7,8
'It's a myth that travelling five-star protects
you from developing travel-related illnesses.
You walk through the same streets as other
travellers, where there may be potentially
rabid dogs. Mosquitoes may fly into resorts.
You may choose to dine at a classy hotel,
but people sometimes get sick from hotel
food,' she said.
Dr Moreira says anyone is potentially at risk
of contracting a travel-related infectious
disease, as they are not just limited to less-
'The risk depends on the destination as well
as the type of person travelling. Certain
groups of travellers are at higher risk of
infectious diseases, including pregnant
women, children, people with impaired
immunity and immigrants returning to
their country of origin to visit friends and
relatives,'5 he said.
1. Family Medicine Research Centre (FMRC), University of Sydney.
SAND abstract No. 196 from the BEACH program: Travel
advice and vaccination. Sydney: FMRC University of Sydney.
2012. ISSN 1444-9072. At: http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/
2. State Government of Victoria. Better Health. Travel health tips.
2012. At: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Overseas arrivals and departures,
short term departures. Dec 2011 (Cat. No. 3401.0).
4. Travel Health Advisory Group. Indonesia. 2012. At: www.
welltogo.com.auNational Health and Medical Research
Council. The Australian Immunisation Handbook. 9th edn.
5. Heywood, et al. A cross-sectional study of pre-travel health-
seeking practices among travellers departing Sydney and
Bangkok airports. BMC Public Health 2012;12:321.
6. Travel Health Advisory Group. Checklists and travel tips: before
you go. At: welltogo.com.au/checklists/beforeyougo.asp
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Smart Traveller. Travel
tips: health. At: www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/health.html
Links Archive Australian Pharmacist January 2013 Australian Pharmacist November 2012 Navigation Previous Page Next Page