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John Przybys: Planning ahead makes for a fun (and healthy) trip

By John Przybys
The Las Vegas Review-Journal
Posted on 7/6/2015, 2:36 PM

Summer vacation season is in full swing, and you're excited about spending a few days in an exotic, far-off locale.

Are there any health precautions you can take that would help make your vacation memorable for all the right reasons?

First on the list is making sure your immunizations are current for wherever it is you're going. Dr. Joseph Hardy, a family practice physician and associate professor at Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine, says he usually refers outbound patients to the Southern Nevada Health District's immunization clinic, which can tell travelers what shots are required for their destinations.

"They also give them instructions on what other kinds of things you want to do," Hardy says; for example, if using mosquito netting at their destination would be wise, or whether a preventative course of malaria medication would be in order.

By the way, make sure your other immunizations are up to date, too, basic things such as good old-fashioned tetanus, diphtheria and measles, Hardy says. (For more information, visit and follow the "immunizations for travelers" link.)

If you're vacationing in a developing country, be wary of food and beverages lest you be stricken with that malady known as "travelers' diarrhea." Opt for bottled water (served in an unbroken-seal bottle) or bottled soft drinks and beverages when you can, or at least make sure that water you drink or use for hygiene has been properly filtered.

Carbonated beverages are also a safer bet, Hardy says. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks and ice cubes made with tap water.

When dining, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends eating foods that are properly cooked and served hot, and fruits and vegetables that you've washed in clean, filtered water or peeled yourself. Avoid raw or not fully cooked food, unwashed or unpeeled raw vegetables or fruits and salads.

Also avoid foods purchased from sidewalk vendors, Hardy says, and note how rigorous a restaurant serving staff's food handling standards are.

"We like that (food is) cooked, and then once it's cooked, who handles it is the next question," he says.

When considering vacation-time activities, employ the same prudence you'd use at home. From zip-lining to parasailing, "there are risky things people do when they're not at home," Hardy says, but don't assume inspection and licensing standards there are as stringent as those here.

For more information, visit the CDC's Traveler Information Center ( which also contains links to specific destinations (

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