Typhoid, malaria, and rabies, oh my!

Ray called me last week to tell me about some research he had done for the vaccinations we’d be needing for traveling in Central and South America. Some vaccinations are required for entry; most other are "recommended." I checked out the US State Department web site, which linked to the Centers for Disease Control’s traveler information section. One vaccination requirement is for Yellow Fever; you need a vaccination certificate to enter Bolivia. The CDC site linked to a list of official Yellow Fever vaccination providers, one of which was the City of Akron Public Health office. That’s pretty convenient for me, so I called them up two days ago, and made an appointment to see them yesterday.

Thinking of the the typical reputation of city government services, I feared the worst, but my visit was actually quite a pleasant and productive experience. After I signed in at the front window, they had me fill out the usual forms of my personal and medical history, plus a list of all of the countries to which I’ll be visiting. They have a computer system and they just plugged all of these country names into, and it spit out 70+ pages of information for me. This told us what vaccinations are required, as well as other pertinent information, such as climate, crime rates, political situation, etc.

The nurse was very helpful, going over all of the vaccination information with me in detail. She gave me the injection for Yellow Fever, as well as a combined injection for Hepatitis A and B. I’ll need to get another injection for the Hep A&B in a month, as well as a third in six months. For Typhoid, I had the option of getting an injection there, which would protect me for two years, or a series of four pills, which I would take every other day for a week, and the protection lasts for five years. The price would not be a big difference, so I opted for the pills, and so she wrote me a prescription for them. I stopped at the Giant Eagle on my way home to get it filled; they had to order it. As I’m writing this, I just finished picking it up and taking the first pill.

Malaria is an issue in the tropical regions; the problem is that there is no advance vaccination. There are several different medications that one can take while you are in at-risk areas, depending on the prevalent malarial strain in that area. So, we’ll need to do a little more research to figure out which medications we’ll need, as well as how much and whether or not it will be practical to carry them.

Many of the areas we’ll be riding through are also at risk for rabies. The nurse told me that rabies vaccination are rarely ever recommended these days, except in cases of prolonged periods of travel (check), and exposure in remote areas (check). So it sounds like a little more research is needed about this; also sounds like it’s going to be an expensive precaution.

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