Bitten By The Travel Bug ‘Travel Doc’ Makes the World A Safer Place

Dr. Stuart Rose knows a lot about some very strange things.

He knows the risk-level of cutaneous leishmaniasis in the Middle East. He knows which African countries lie within the ‘meningitis belt.’ He knows how to pronounce onchocerciasis – a particularly nasty black-fly-borne infection found on three continents.

Rose, of Northampton, is internationally known in the world of travel medicine, the specialty of health and safety abroad. He’s the creator, author and editor of the International Travel Health Guide, a comprehensive wellness resource now in its 13th edition, and owner of a travel health company that specializes in products for all types of travelers, including those attracted to extreme and alternative trips.

But his mission is not to wow audiences with nine-syllable diseases and factoids about little-known ailments. Rather, Rose is on a life-long quest to make the traveling public more aware of travel medicine, and the often simple ways they can keep themselves healthy and safe in even the most remote of outposts.

Maiden Voyage

Rose said his fascination with travel medicine began in medical school, during an elective course that centered on tropical

A Guided Tour

But education remains the most important aspect of the travel medicine specialty, Rose continued, and while Travel Medicine™ helps people carry out preventative measures with simple products, the crown jewel of his work in this specialized field remains the International Travel Health Guide.

Today, the guide is published by Elsevier Inc., a health and medicine publishing firm with offices spread across the country. It packs current health and travel information into 762-page paperback book that Rose said he and co-editor Dr. Jay Keystone, who joined Rose in completing the current edition, try to keep as manageable – and portable – as possible.

That’s not an easy feat when drafting, for one, the World Medical Guide, which represents about half of the book, and includes information on the health risks and policies of more than 200 countries all over the world. And in order to maintain an emphasis on safe travel – Rose said more people die in accidents or motor vehicle crashes while traveling than of disease – each country’s profile includes not only entry requirements, information on the availability of hospitals and doctors, current health advisories and ongoing risks, but also information on road safety and animal hazards, for instance.

But in addition to the World Health Guide, Rose and Keystone have also continued to expand supplemental chapters in the book ranging in topic from insect-borne diseases, jet lag and motion sickness, trip preparation, HIV/AIDS, business travel and health, and traveling with children, just to name a few.

The guide is organized to be accessible to a variety of audiences, from the casual traveler to health care providers working in travel medicine, and serves as the only regularly updated sources of health and wellness information for travelers on the market, providing a snap shot of the global climate on an annual basis.

Sometimes, Rose said, the changes are small, like the availability of a new vaccine or antibiotic. Other times, the additions to the International Travel Health Guide reflect major global health issues, such as the impending threat of an avian flu pandemic.

“Right now, that’s the bomb that’s ticking for travelers,” he noted. “If the avian flu hits, all bets are off.”

But Rose cautioned that there are other health issues of concern now that should not be overlooked. Polio, for instance, is seeing a resurgence in some areas such as Nigeria, which no longer provides the vaccine to its citizens. Some countries now require an HIV test for business or long-term travelers prior to entry, and Japanese Encephalitis has been on the upswing in some Asian countries. On a more positive note, new vaccines have been developed recently for meningitis and whooping cough, a fact of which Rose said all travelers should be aware.

Let’s Jet Set

Armed with the right information, he said, travelers can significantly reduce their risk of getting sick from both common ailments such as traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning, or dehydration, and more serious problems, including malaria or skin infections, the latter of which account for only 1{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of travel-related deaths, but are the most common cause of illness.

“The most common ways people get sick overseas are through contaminated food and water or through insect bites, and there are simple ways to lower the risk – water-purifying tablets, mosquito nets, or avoiding food from street vendors, for instance,” he explained.

“People shouldn’t be scared to travel,” Rose was quick to note, “but they should be aware of what risks they might face and how to avoid problems.”

And in part, the International Travel Health Guide helps to put that into perspective. True, the current edition reports that the risk-level for hepatitis is high in the Middle East, but instances of cutaneous leishmaniasis are low. The ‘meningitis belt’ spans over a dozen countries, but vaccinations are available and tourist accommodations further reduce the risk.

As for the pronunciation of onchocerciasis … Rose recommended just bringing the guide along to the doctor’s office and turning to page 149, if ever you return from the Sahara with a bit more than you bargained for.

Fast Facts:

Business: Travel Medicine Inc.
Owner: Dr. Stuart Rose
Address: 369 Pleasant St., Northampton, MA 01060
Web site: www.travmed.com
Services: Travel information and products, home of the International Travel Health Guide

Jaclyn Stevenson can be reached at stevenson@healthcarenews.com