Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist December 2012 Contents 946 Australian Pharmacist December 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
The BEACH sub-study*
The University of Sydney study found that
57% of patient respondents did not seek
pre-travel health advice before travelling
internationally, despite having travelled
to an at-risk destination for contracting
at least one of the eight travel-related
infectious diseases included in the study1
(hepatitis A and B, malaria, typhoid fever,
rabies, cholera, meningococcal disease and
It analysed international travel patterns,
travel health behaviours and pre-travel
vaccination rates among Australian
travellers in a general practice setting. At-risk
destinations were determined by drawing
on WHO and CDC disease endemicity data
and recommendations of those who should
be considered for vaccination (although
vaccination may not have been required in all
travellers visiting the at-risk destinations).
Useful information sources
Australian Dept of Foreign Affairs and
Travel Clinics Australia
1900 969 359
World Health Organisation,
International Travel and Health
1800 022 222
NPS MedicineWise Medicines
1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424)
Heslop I. Travel Health. Australian
• Visit a doctor and dentist for a check
up at least six to eight weeks before
• Ensure immunisations are up-to-date.
At least eight weeks before travelling,
check if any special vaccinations are
• For 'adventure' holidays, get advice
about relevant health issues (e.g.
altitude sickness, fitness).
• Have your eyesight checked, consider
taking a spare pair of glasses.
• If you plan to carry medicines
overseas, contact the embassy of the
country you are visiting to check the
medicines are legal there. Carry a
letter from your doctor that lists your
medicines and doses. Leave medicines
in original packaging, so they are
labelled with your name and dose.
Keep important medicines with you in
your hand luggage.
• Buy travel insurance, including health
• Prepare a first aid/medical kit for the
trip. Consider doing a first aid course.
• Get and wear an alert bracelet or
necklace if you have a serious health
condition or allergy.
Special preparation may be necessary
if you are travelling with children, are
pregnant, over 60 years or have an
existing medical condition.
According to Senior Research Analyst
Christopher Harrison, who headed the
research, the results indicate many Australian
travellers may be failing to take precautions
to reduce their risk of contracting infectious
diseases while abroad.
'Vaccination coverage for some diseases was
low, including hepatitis B (40%), typhoid
(45%), and hepatitis A (51%) infections,'1
'Among those visiting at-risk destinations,
common reasons given for not being fully
vaccinated included patient refusal (32%),
patient did not speak to a GP about travelling
before their trip (14%) or, if they did, leaving
the visit too late to vaccinate fully (7%).1
'However, patients who sought advice from
their GP before international travel were
significantly more likely to be fully vaccinated
against some common diseases,1 thereby
potentially avoiding serious infections while
abroad. In a pre-travel consultation patients
have the opportunity to receive health advice
specific to their travel destination,1 such as
potential risks and ways to minimise infection
while abroad, including preventing mosquito
bites and eating and drinking safely."
The BEACH study also found that 66.1%
(n=448) of respondents who had travelled
overseas in the past two years travelled to
destinations where vaccination should have
been considered, including destinations with
a risk of hepatitis A (55.9% of trips) and B
(64.2%), typhoid (60.5%) and rabies (50.1%).1
The Head of Clinical Research at the National
Centre for Immunisation Research and
Surveillance (NCIRS) in Sydney, Professor
Robert Booy, says the results are concerning
given that travellers play a significant role
in spreading infectious diseases across
international borders, through their travel
patterns and behaviours.2
'Australians are travelling in record numbers,
making almost 8 million short-term overseas
trips within a year, with Indonesia the nation's
second most popular travel destination.3
These travellers may be at increased risk of
infectious diseases, including rabies, hepatitis
A and malaria.4
'Travellers who seek pre-travel health advice
from a health professional have been found
to have better knowledge of infectious
disease risk, more accurate risk perceptions
and are less likely to engage in risky
behaviours,'2 said Prof Booy.
'Yet many Western travellers, including
Australians, do not consult a health
professional before travelling and may be
unaware of their need to protect themselves
against infectious diseases.2
'Vaccinated travellers are less likely to
contaminate other travellers or the local
population with various potentially serious
diseases,'5 Prof Booy said.
'Australians travelling overseas should be
visiting their GP or travel health clinic at
least six to eight weeks before departure
for a health check and to learn about ways
to protect against travel-related disease,
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
2. 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.
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.
Organisation. International travel and health. 2012. Chapter 6:
Vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccines.
*The BEACH sub study abstract can be accessed at:
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