SOURCE: On Call International

May 30, 2007 17:28 ET

Travel Healthy, Protect Yourself From Tuberculosis, Other Airborne Illness

Simple Steps to Avoid Health Risk During Travel

SALEM, NH--(Marketwire - May 30, 2007) - Increase in travel abroad has led Americans to prepare for any worse-case scenario. However, you could be exposed to health risks before your flight even leaves the ground.

According to Dr. Robert Wheeler, medical director for On Call International, a global travel and medical assistance provider, "People might come into contact with a variety of viruses, molds and bacteria throughout the day. Many of these can lead to a range of ailments, from the common cold, to minor skin infections, to more serious infections from pathogens such as the extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB) that has precipitated a recent international air travel health investigation."

Wheeler continues, "When you think about the number of people you come into contact with when traveling, the risk of the spread of infectious disease is clear. However, most times you can avoid falling ill from airborne pathogens by engaging in simple, adequate and consistent hygiene."

Dr. Wheeler suggests the following tips to consider for healthy travel, no matter who sits beside you on your next flight.

--  Stick to the basics: soap and water. The best way to avoid being
    infected by an airborne or surface contact pathogen and becoming sick is by
    washing your hands several times a day for at least 15 to 20 seconds, under
    warm, running water. This will also help to limit the spread of bacteria
    and viruses to others. When soap and water is unavailable, an alcohol-based
    hand sanitizer is a reasonable substitute.
--  Avoid spreading germs through coughs and sneezes by covering your
    mouth and using a tissue.
--  For enhanced resistance against upper respiratory problems, or to stop
    the spread of germs if you are ill, use a N95 face mask, most recently
    brought to attention regarding the potential future influenza pandemic.
--  Update your immunizations against childhood and local diseases you
    could encounter, especially with popular travel today to exotic or remote
--  Be sure to take enough medications on your trip and to keep all
    prescription drugs in their original containers.
--  Consider purchasing a medical, personal and travel assistance
    membership that will provide you with 24-hour emergency services including
    worldwide legal assistance, emergency message transmission to your family,
    and an emergency medical evacuation benefit to cover you for the duration
    of your trip.
Editor note: If you would like to speak with Dr. Robert Wheeler to learn more about preventative measures or safety issues in regard to tuberculosis and healthy travel, please contact Gina Gretchko at 216.912.2850 or

Headquartered in Salem, N.H., On Call International provides customized medical, travel, security, concierge and insurance products for individual travelers and families, alike, 24/7, 365 days a year. It serves more than seven million consumers through clients such as Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Carnival Corporation, which includes Carnival, Costa, Princess, Cunard, and Seabourn Cruise Lines. On Call International is a member of the International Assistance Group (IAG) and specializes in delivering high touch service to its consumer and corporate clients including aero-medical evacuations anywhere in the world. For further information about On Call International, visit or call toll free to 888.289.0567.

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