June 30, 2008

CDC Releases Health Guidelines For Olympic Travelers

Travelers hoping to visit China during the Beijing Olympics should be on the lookout for bronchitis, dog bites, respiratory infections and diarrhea, according to an international research team.

Reporting in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, researchers found that those dangers have been the biggest health threats to international travelers to China over the past 10 years.

Researchers received their information from travel and tropical-medicine clinics worldwide.

Minor injuries were also common among visitors to China. These included joint sprains and muscle strains, which researchers noted could have been related to lower safety standards in public places.

Dr. Nina Marano, of the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, led the study. She and her colleagues found infection with tropical or parasitic diseases to be very rare among travelers.

"Many international travelers worry about exotic diseases," Marano said in a statement issued by the CDC. "They probably don't think about injuries or dog bites, but the study found that travelers to China sought treatment for these ailments more often."

"Travelers need to be cautious about dog bites," Marano added, "as China has the second highest rate of human rabies cases in the world."

Anyone who is bitten by an animal should wash the wound promptly and seek reliable medical care, the CDC said.

The CDC has compiled a list of precautionary tips for travelers. This includes making sure all vaccinations are up-to- date and visiting a travel-medicine clinic to get some professional advice before the trip.

The agency also encourages travelers to wash their hands frequently to lessen the risk of contracting a respiratory or gastrointestinal infection. To further cut the risk of diarrheal illnesses, travelers should also eat only fully cooked, hot meals, and fruits and vegetables that they wash and peel themselves.

"We hope travelers take this information and use it to prepare themselves for a healthy trip," Marano said.

"Using common sense while in Beijing can also help keep you healthy," she added. "Wash your hands, watch your step, and don't pet stray dogs."


Image Caption: Torchbearers pass the flame during the Torch Relay in Wuzhong, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, on June 30. (Photo credit: Xing Guangli/Xinhua)


On the Net:

American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

CDC - Gold Medal Travel Health Tips for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games