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Questionable Study Shows Almost Half Of American Travelers Aren’t Aware Of Health Risks Abroad

Travel News — By Carlo Alcos on November 15, 2010 at 10:30 am

According to this EurekAlert.com release, over 30 million Americans travel to “resource-limited” areas of the world every year. This widespread movement may contribute to the spreading of diseases such as influenza, measles, and meningitis. It can also put these travelers at risk for health issues like malaria, dengue fever, and hepatitis. A study revealed that 46% of travelers to “resource-limited” countries didn’t seek health advice or vaccinations before they left.

The survey at Boston Logan International Airport — conducted by the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital (in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Boston Public Health Commission) — questioned more than 1200 travelers leaving the US.

Their study revealed the results that 38% of the travelers were headed to low- and low-middle-income destinations (as defined by the World Bank’s World Development Report). Of those, 46% didn’t bother to get any medical advice before departing.

The most commonly cited reason for not pursuing health information was a lack of concern about potential health problems.

They did find that the most common source of information for the 54% who did seek health advice was the Internet. They state that this revelation could be used to better disseminate information to travelers.

Fear Mongering?

I’m no scientist, but I do question whether 1200 travelers at a single airport is representative of the 30 million people that travel to “resource-limited” countries annually. Furthermore, if I did my math correctly, of those 1200 travelers, only 210 of them (46% of 38%) were actually people traveling to poor countries AND who didn’t seek health advice.

How 210 travelers is extrapolated to “almost half of American travelers” I cannot answer.

What do you think? Health, of course, is a serious issue and I would encourage travelers to take appropriate precautions. But is this study meaningful?

[Image: alvi2047/Flickr]

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Tags: disease, health, travel

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