2019 in Review ... and Previewing 2020
The Waikato Travel Clinic opened its doors in May this year and, since then, Dr Michael Oehley has helped hundreds of travellers prepare for their overseas adventures with pre-travel advice, prescriptions, vaccinations and more. Now, as a new decade begins, we look at what changes are taking place in the world of Travel Medicine. With a changing climate, a growing global population and increased interconnectedness - the 2020s could be the decade where diseases like Dengue Fever become global crises, where diseases like Measles make a global comeback, and where new and as-yet unknown diseases emerge.
I would like to thank every patient who attended the Waikato Travel Clinic in 2019 for your patronage. It has been my pleasure to provide premium pre-travel medical care; and I look forward to the coming decade with enthusiasm and optimism. The depressed Kiwi dollar and negative economic outlook has impacted travel slightly in 2019, but I am confident and optimistic that, as economic indicators improve in the coming months and years, Kiwi travellers will take to the skies in vast numbers in search of new experiences.
In 2020, the usual advice for travellers about taking precautions with food and water, wearing insect repellents, avoiding animal bites, taking care to stay safe, having medical insurance and avoiding high risk activities will still apply. I expect that Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus, Rabies, Influenza and Yellow Fever vaccinations and Malaria tablets will remain the mainstay of my practice.
But... the Measles outbreak in New Zealand and Samoa in 2019 has now spread to other Pacific Islands and Queensland, and I expect that all travellers born between 1969 and today will need to ensure that they have at least received one dose (if not two) of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine.
And... Dengue Fever continues to spread across the world with increasing significance to travellers. As yet there is no reliable vaccine or treatment for this disease, and travellers who contract it are more likely to die if they contract a second or third strain of dengue.
Plus... it is only a matter of time before Influenza makes the next "big leap" in evolution and jumps into a new, as yet unknown pathogenic strain. The Spanish flu of 1919 is now a part of human history, with few alive to remember it - and in a planet that is overpopulated and highly mobile, it would not take much of a spark to light the tinder of a massive epidemic. So travellers should definitely consider getting their annual influenza vaccine in April/May, either from their G.P. or from your travel doctor.
Antibiotic resistance, the Ebola virus, Polio outbreaks, Zika virus... there are many other issues which can affect travellers - so don't forget to book an appointment with me before your travel; and ensure that you Travel Well.
I am optimistic that our world is full of exciting and incredible places to discover and explore. I look forward to helping Kiwi travellers stay well, and Travel Well, as they expand their horizons in 2020 and beyond.