Vacation? Protect Yourself From Zika

Zika virus is a growing concern for people traveling this summer, as it has begun spreading rapidly through new regions in Central America and the United States.

Zika virus typically has very mild symptoms, but it can put people at risk of complications such as infant microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. There is currently no cure or vaccine for the Zika virus.

AFC Urgent Care wants you and your family to be protected while on vacation, so if you’re planning to travel to an area that has been affected by Zika, like Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America, or the Pacific Islands, read on for our tips to keep yourself safe.

Avoid going out during peak mosquito activity. Early morning and early evening are the most active times for mosquitoes, so you should try to avoid spending a lot of time outside during those times of day. Careful planning can allow you to have breakfast and dinner inside and still enjoy the sights and experiences of your destination.

Use insect repellents. Bug sprays registered with the Environmental Protection Agency are the most likely to be effective at keeping mosquitoes away. You can also treat your clothing with permethrin, an insecticide and repellent that acts like natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower. This chemical is widely-used by public health mosquito control programs, and it can give the wearer a bubble of protection.

Studies have shown that permethrin is one of few pesticides that could be safe for young children.

Use barriers like netting and clothing. You can add a physical barrier between you and mosquitoes by wearing loose-fitting clothing that covers most of your skin. Thin, loose fabric can keep you cool in warm climates, while allowing you to protect yourself from bites. You can also add mosquito netting to baby strollers, hats and hotel rooms that don’t have window screens or air conditioning. These measures can keep you protected around the clock!

Use condoms or abstinence. To prevent sexual transmission of the Zika virus, doctors recommend the same measures you can take against other sexually transmitted diseases. Employing physical barriers like condoms or abstaining from sexual activity are two very effective ways to protect yourself from Zika!

The Zika virus has begun to spread quickly through countries like Brazil, and many cases have been confirmed in the United States. While the disease can be unnoticeable when you contract it, there are complications that can make the virus a much bigger health problem.

If you need more information, visit your local AFC Urgent Care for advice on vaccines and other ways you can keep your family healthy while on vacation!
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Five Hazards to Consider Before Your Holiday Travels

holiday travel 2We’re well into the holiday season, which means people are traveling all over the place to take their vacations, visit their families, and escape the daily grind for a little while.

But the part that no one tells you about is the number of hazards you are exposed to, simply by choosing to leave home:

Catching a Disease on the Plane or at the Destination

Groups of people contained in close quarters can expose you to new bacteria and viruses, which spread alarmingly fast on vehicles like airplanes. In fact, air travel is a key component in the spread of the seasonal flu each year and has been responsible for several pandemic events. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date because different regions of the world struggle with different pathogens and being vaccinated against them can mean the difference between a restful vacation and an extended hospital stay.

Selfie Deaths

A relatively recent phenomenon, which has coincided with the rise of smartphones and social networks, is the increase in selfie-related injuries and deaths. Some people will stop at nothing to get the perfect selfie, even if it means getting dangerously close to wildlifeperching on the edge of a cliff or standing on active train tracks. Many organizations have closed parts of their attractions after people began engaging in risky behaviors to take selfies. Many of these tragic deaths and injuries could have been prevented if people had been following the rules at their destinations, so travel agencies have begun to warn tourists that taking precautions and following advisories can save lives, and that the selfies just aren’t worth it.

Traveler’s Thrombosis

holiday travel 1If you spend an extended period of time completely stationary, you run the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. These are blood clots that typically form in the deep veins of the legs which can then travel to other areas of the body, such as the lungs. This can cause a pulmonary embolism, which leads to death if not treated quickly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that travelers who spend extended amounts of time in a car or airplane remember to keep hydrated and move as much as they can. Gentle stretching and flexing the muscles of the legs have been shown to help prevent the condition.

Hearing Damage

It may come as a surprise to no one that jet engines are loud. But that noise isn’t limited to outside the plane. Studies have shown that in-flight noise levels average between 80 to 105 decibels, which can cause hearing damage after long periods of time. The noise is often worse at the window seat and in parts of the plane that are above or behind the engines, because of the combined noise of the wind and the engines running. Commercial airlines have been researching ways to make the cabins quieter, and some newer airplane models, such as the Airbus A380, have introduced innovative insulating and structural changes that reduce noise levels. Until then, many airlines recommend that passengers use earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to reduce their exposure to high-decibel noise.

Car Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of death for American tourists and expatriates the world over. This is because the road infrastructure and driving norms can be dramatically different in regions around the world, especially in developing nations. Tourists typically don’t have to have a driver’s license to operate vehicles like motorized scooters or motorcycles, which leave the driver extremely unprotected in the event of a collision. Travel agencies and the CDC recommend that drivers and pedestrians exhibit extreme caution on unfamiliar roadways, and avoid risky travel behaviors such as getting on over-full buses, riding on the roof of a vehicle or walking in the street.

We didn’t point these out to completely turn you off traveling. In fact, studies show that travel for leisure gives a big boost to your heart and brain health. But the key word here is leisure, and if you’re running around stressed because you forgot something or getting sick at the hotel, your vacation will end up being a lot less restful than you intended.

So take our advice, and be sure to get your vacation contingency plan together before you get on the plane!

At AFC/Doctors Express, soon to be AFC Urgent Care, you can get a general check-up before you leave in case you are already feeling a cold or the flu coming on.

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