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Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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The Adventurous Traveler's Guide to Health

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I just received a copy of The Adventurous Traveler's Guide to Health by Christopher Sanford, M.D. Chris is a delightful, smart, and witty person, and is a true expert in travel and tropical medicine. He is a family practice physician and co-medical director of the Travel Clinic at Hall Health Center at the University of Washington. The book is published by the University of Washington Press and carries a retail price of $14.95 U.S.

At 220 pages, including the index, the book is a very handy size, of small dimensions, for carrying on a trip. At that size, it is not intended to be a comprehensive tome. Rather, it is a well-written and entertaining appetizer that covers a reasonable assortment of ailments and situations relevant to most travelers, whether or not they are experienced. There are questions and answers, and quite a few "pearls" of wisdom. Knowing Chris, I am not surprised that he has at times interjected a dry sense of humor, which is done tastefully and in a manner that does not detract from the medical content.

I wish that the book was more comprehensive, if it is really meant to serve the "adventurous" traveler as a guidebook. Presumably by choice, the topics covered are not particularly patterned. One very brief chapter, entitled "Really, Really Nasty Diseases and Other Threats That Are Really, Really Rare, Thank God," contains mention only of cholera, Chagas' disease, kuru, the candiru fish, volcanoes, and being eaten by a lion. It consumes 4 pages. In my view, this precious real estate would have been better used to provide actionable information for true adventurers.

So, the book is interesting and easy to read - I enjoyed it, really - but I would recommend it as an introduction to whet the appetite of the reader for further information, not as a guide to be carried as a medical reference for the myriad medical situations that a traveler might encounter. Therefore, I think a more appropriate title would be "Health Matters to Be Considered Prior to Travel." It is a noble effort, and worth the price of admission.

Preview the 25th Anniversary & Annual Meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society, which will be held in Snowmass, Colorado July 25-30, 2008.

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About the Author

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.

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