Travel and health
BEFORE YOU GO
- Matkailijan terveysopas (in Finnish) (www.thl.fi) instructions, country-specific vaccination recommendations, etc.
- Good advice (in Finnish): www.fsih.fi/matkailijan-ohjeet
- Is your destination in a malaria region? Check the malaria maps
- Travel advisories on the website of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs
Take out travel insurance!
Ensure that your policy extends for the entire duration of your trip and remember to check for possible exclusions (diving, rock-climbing, canoeing, pregnancy, etc.)
- basic immunization
- required vaccinations (e.g. yellow fever)
- other vaccinations (recommendations depend on factors such as duration and purpose of trip)
We do not provide "just-in-case" advance antibiotic prescriptions for trips abroad. Should you fall ill, please seek medical help locally if required.
- Malaria can be a life-threatening illness
- It is vital to choose the right malaria regimen for the region where you are going -> different regimens for different regions
- Consult a nurse or GP for advice on choosing the right regimen
- Avoid malaria regions if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant
Put together a travel pharmacy
- Paracetamol (Panadol, Para-Tabs or the like) is a suitable painkiller in the tropics
- Diarrhea medications, mosquito repellent, hand disinfectant, etc.
- If you have chronic illnesses, check that everything is in order before departure. You may have to present your prescriptions at e.g. airports or Customs. Make sure you have enough of your medications with you in case your return is delayed, for example.
Besides malaria, mosquitoes also transmit diseases such as dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis -> some forms of these diseases can be life-threatening.
Protecting yourself from mosquitoes:
- Clothing: wear light-coloured clothing with long sleeves; remember to cover your head and ankles as well!
- Use mosquito bed netting
- Treat clothes and mosquito netting with permethrin if necessary (Bio-Kill ™, available at e.g. Retki-Aitta)
- Insecticides must have a sufficient DEET concentration; OFF Teho is recommended
Do not forget to take your malaria tablets as instructed!
- hand hygiene! Hand-washing + disinfectant
- only eat foods that are cooked through and served hot
- drink only canned or bottled beverages
- avoid: uncooked seafood, salads, eggs, mayonnaise, ice cream, ice cubes
- lots of liquids plus Osmosal/ORS solution as necessary (salt and sugar)
- Diarrhea can also be treated with loperamide (e.g. Imodium) -> but never if you have a fever as well
Drugs and alcohol
- Increase the risk of accidents; legislation also varies from country to country
- Insurance benefits are usually denied if the person insured is under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the accident or other insurance event occurs
- Remember safe sex.
- Buy your condoms already in Finland - unprotected sex puts you at risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases!
- In the midday sun, sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes; if possible, avoid being out in the sun between 11 am and 3 pm local time
- The best sun block is to cover up or stay in the shade: sunscreen is only a quick fix. You can get a tan in the shade as well!
- Freshwater swimming in the tropics can expose you to parasites -> swimming in the ocean or a swimming pool is safer
- Rabies: avoid contact with wild animals or stray dogs
- Traffic is the undoing of many a traveller. Protect your brain - wear a helmet! Avoid any unnecessary risks.
- In case of crimes, local legislation may differ from Finnish legislation
Where to turn for help?
- Finnish Embassy and the embassies of other EU countries. Jot down the relevant contact information in advance!
- In case of acute emergency: SOS International (international emergency centre owned by Nordic insurance companies), Emergency Centre Finland 24h Tel. +358 (0)9 25 27 11 60
BACK HOME AGAIN
- Finish your course of anti-malarial medication
- Indeterminate fever after travelling may be a sign of malaria. No anti-malarial medication can provide 100% protection. Seek medical attention and tell the doctor that you have been travelling.
- Travel insurance policies cover the treatment of illnesses contracted while travelling, such as diarrhea and other stomach complaints
Sohvi Ihalainen, GP
Johanna Oksanen, nurse
Eija Rautiainen, nurse
Key words: Vaccinations