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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

International Travel and Teens

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Be a good parent, expose your kids to the world! Seems reasonable, but I tell you, as I prepare to send my high school junior off on a trip to China next month, a recent Grand Rounds about Travel Medicine gave me pause!

Gary Fuijimoto, the Director of Travel Medicine at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation presented some very interesting, however scary facts. For example:
  • Polio is present in India, Africa and Indonesia;
  • There is a 5th form of human malaria;
  • Typhoid Fever (symptoms including fever, muscle aches, abdominal pain and headaches) mimics malaria;
  • Hepatitis B remains infectious even when dried for up to 4 weeks (and symptoms can wait up to 6 months to appear); and
  • Tell your children not to approach animals when traveling as many countries to not vaccinate animals for rabies (or anything else for that matter).
If you are getting vaccines before a trip, start early and remember that you should only have one live vaccine within any 30-day period. Luckily, my teen was up-to-date on all her vaccines, including meningitis, HPV and Hep B, so the poor thing only needed Typhoid (last month), which was good.

Now I get her ready and try not to panic if she gets flu-like symptoms up to a year after the trip! Being a parent can work a person's nerves!
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.