Emporiaticsthe science of travel medicine

With over 400 million international trips being taken annually the health problems faced by travellers are considerable and variable depending on the countries visited and the lifestyle adopted by the traveller. 1 There is evidence that many travellers are receiving inaccurate predeparture travel advice. 2 Travellers to North America, Europe and Australasia are usually at no greater risk of getting an infectious disease than they would be at home, but those visiting the less developed tropical and subtropical countries of Africa, Central and South America and South-East Asia are at significant risk of contracting infectious diseases.

Problems range in complexity from the most frequent and usually benign problems, such as traveller's diarrhoea, to more exotic and potentially fatal infections such as malaria, Japanese encephalitis and HIV. It must also be remembered that in some countries with volatile political changes there is the possibility of injury, incarceration or being left stranded. Travel means transport and thus the potential for accidents and crippled body and bank balance. Insurance for such contingencies is as important as preventive health measures.

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