Travel health is very important. Because while it is sometimes difficult to avoid a small outbreak of fever and a few words from the stomach, some dangerous diseases can be easily prevented with vaccines.
What we have done and what we advise you to do is to make an appointment at a medical centre that has a travel service. It can be a hospital or a research centre (Pasteur Institute for example). First, you will have an interview with a nurse who will give you simple rules to follow to limit the risk of illness. Well, some things are to be taken with a twist… We laughed a little bit in her face when she told us that we couldn’t put ourselves in shorts or that we couldn’t swim in the waterfalls! Then you will see a travel specialist who will first check if your French vaccines are up to date and will establish with you the list of other necessary vaccines according to your itinerary. The advantage is that you switch to the injection at the same time since they have all the necessary stock, no need to come back later.
Well, we must admit that for us, this appointment was still a little disappointing: We were already mistaken within the hour so we arrived 10 minutes late. Our interview with the nurse was therefore very quick, she was not able to go into the details as she usually does and our doctor was a little out of line. We didn’t understand everything she told us, she didn’t finish her sentences and told us about health in countries we don’t even go to!
WHICH VACCINES FOR A LONG-TERM TRIP?
Above all, the vaccines we have made are not necessarily the ones you will make for your trip! This depends on your itinerary and the length of your stay. For this reason, it is necessary to see a specialist doctor to see the recommendations according to the countries.
Here is the list of vaccines that have been recommended to us:
Yellow fever: transmissible by mosquito bite, it is often a very serious disease that is prevalent in Africa and South America. The vaccine is mandatory as soon as you return to these territories, so there are no questions to ask. Sylvie having already done so to go to Senegal in 2010, only Benjamin was allowed to do so. Be careful, this vaccine can only be made in a specialized tropical diseases centre.
Hepatitis A and B: transmissible through water and food, they are found all over the world. There is one vaccine for hepatitis A and one for hepatitis B. Benjamin was up to date for both hepatitis, while Sylvie had to do hepatitis A.
Typhoid: also transmissible through food and water, it is found in areas where hygiene is precarious, such as Asia and Africa. We both made this vaccine.
Rabies: transmissible by bite, it can be fatal if you do not go to a rabies control centre quickly. The vaccine does not eliminate the virus but increases the time it takes to get to the centre by a few days. Rabies is present in most parts of the world. We have long hesitated to do so: you already have to be bitten (or scratched) but in addition you have to make the animal have rabies. At first we thought that with a few precautions we should be fine, especially since if we are not treated quickly with or without vaccines we can leave our skin there. But finally we thought that since it was still deadly, we shouldn’t laugh about it and that it doesn’t only happen to others!
Japanese encephalitis: transmissible by mosquito bite, it can be severe and debilitating in some cases. This disease is widespread in almost all Asian countries. Several conditions must be met to be in a risk area: rice fields, animals (pigs…), rural agricultural areas, rainy season. Since we won’t really be where we’re going, it’s better to do it in prevention.
So we went to Tourcoing University Hospital.
AND FOR THE REST?
We didn’t want to take an anti-malaria medication because we thought it was too restrictive: we don’t want to walk around with thirty-six thousand platelets and have to take it every day at the same time, with the time differences it seems complicated to us (and at the same time it wasn’t really recommended to us…).
For the rest of the drugs, we were told that there was a way to find what we needed, at least the basic stuff, abroad. Here is the list of what we take with us:
Pain: Doliprane, Ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory)
Belly: Tiorfan (anti-diarrheal), Gaviscon (heartburn), Domperidone (nausea, vomiting), Spasfon (intestine, painful periods)
Cream: Fucidine (skin infection), Nerisone (infected mosquito bites), Cicatryl (small pod of healing agent)
Others: Orelox/Augmentin (Antibiotic: cold, sore throat, otitis, urinary tract infection), Desloratadine (anti-allergy), Micropure (to clean non-potable water), Biseptin (disinfectant).