`Tis the Season for Holiday Travel

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Pharmacy Times, December 2019, Volume 85, Issue 12

The holidays are upon us, and that means many people will fly to meet family and friends in the days and weeks ahead to celebrate the season, as well as travel to some popular vacation destinations for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

The holidays are upon us, and that means many people will fly to meet family and friends in the days and weeks ahead to celebrate the season, as well as travel to some popular vacation destinations for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for many US airlines, noted that a record 31.6 million passengers will likely travel aboard US carriers worldwide during the 12-day Thanksgiving travel period, which they defined this year as Friday, November 22, through Tuesday, December 3, 2019, about a 3.7% increase over last year.1

According to A4A, compared with the 2018 Thanksgiving travel period, US airlines operated 859 more flights per day, adding 108,000 daily seats to their schedules, to accommodate an additional 93,000 travelers.

As opportunities for travel both global and domestic grow, those in the health care industry must remain aware of any problems that our increasingly transient population could face, particularly threats of an infectious nature.

In 2018 in the Journal of Travel Medicine, Stoney et al reported on an analysis of 1222 travelers from abroad to the United States, noting that “nonspecific respiratory, gastrointestinal and systemic infections were also among the most frequently reported diagnoses overall” and were comparable to what has been reported among travelers to low- and middle-income countries.

These illnesses were followed by other issues, like skin and soft tissue infections (29 diagnoses), arthropod bites and stings (173 diagnoses), and Lyme disease (42 diagnoses).2 Remember these statistics as you counsel patients, as they are a good reminder that infectious threats don’t respect borders.

In this issue, you will find counseling tips on a number of infectious disease issues that your patients may encounter during this very busy travel season, and you can also visit the CDC’s website for more important counseling pearls. As CDC officials note on the website, health care providers, including pharmacists, are in a great position to counsel patients before they head out for their holiday travels.

On their “Holiday Travel Tips” webpage, CDC officials advise that health care providers discuss with patients potential health concerns at destinations (including counseling about any unique vaccines and medicines they may need when visiting a certain area), instruct patients to pack a travel health kit (with items like OTC medications, sunscreen, first aid supplies, and, when appropriate, insect repellent), gather safety information, and, last but not least, counsel patients to expect the unexpected, including checking that medical insurance covers expenses abroad.3

Counseling patients on these few items can help ensure they enjoy the weeks ahead. Happy holidays to one and all.

References

  • Airlines for America projects record 31.6 Million passengers over Thanksgiving travel period [news release]. Airlines for American website.https://www.airlines.org/news/airlines-for-america-projects-record-31-6-million-passengers-over-thanksgiving-travel-period/ Published Nov. 19, 2019. Accessed Dec. 3, 2019
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Holiday travel tips. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/traveling-holidays. Accessed December 2, 2019.
  • Stoney RJ, Esposito DH, Kozarsky P, et al. Infectious diseases acquired by international travelers visiting the USA. J Travel Med. 2018: 25(1).