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Risk Assessment: What Are Common Travel Health Risks

March 18, 2024

Risk Assessment: What Are Common Travel Health Risks

Before traveling abroad, many people choose to see a healthcare professional for guidance on how to stay healthy while traveling to avoid suffering an injury or contracting an illness. A comprehensive risk assessment is the foundation of any pre-travel health visit. After all, the medical advice you get during this visit can help you make informed decisions about how best to minimize your injury or disease risk during your trip. And because every individual and every international trip is different, this advice must be tailored to a specific traveler. 

What to Expect from a Travel Risk Assessment

The novel branch of medicine called travel medicine was established to provide travelers worldwide with access to essential pre-travel healthcare services. A successful travel risk assessment involves obtaining, interpreting, and utilizing risk data to develop an individualized travel safety plan. During your pre-travel health consultation, your healthcare provider will perform three main tasks. He or she will:

Ask you questions about yourself and your trip

Identify any potential trip-related hazards (risk assessment)

Give you advice on how to manage these potential hazards (risk management).

Any traveler planning an international trip is encouraged to schedule a pre-travel health consultation four to six weeks before departure. A pre-travel consultation aims to inform the traveler about vaccinations they may need before they go and any medications that may be required on the trip, as well as any potential health hazards associated with their travel or destination. 

Assessing Possible Travel-Related Hazards

Based on Your Background

In assessing the risks associated with your proposed trip, your healthcare provider will consider factors such as your age, sex, medical history, vaccination history, and previous travel experience. The primary objective of risk assessment is to identify special risk travelers; for instance, travelers with medical conditions, older people, pregnant women, young children, and others who may be more vulnerable to certain trip-related hazards. For example, young children are generally at greater risk for suffering an accident or infection while traveling, and travelers with medical conditions may not have access to adequate medical care at their travel destination.

Based on Your Trip

Travelers embarking on a long-term trip or adventure trips abroad are also considered a special risk and therefore require a specific risk assessment before their departure. During your risk assessment, your healthcare provider will consider your destination, the duration of your trip, your proposed mode of travel, your planned activities, and other factors to pinpoint any travel-related health hazards and plan an effective risk-management strategy. 

Common Travel Health Risks

The extent of your travel risk and the characteristics of your healthcare plan will depend a great deal on the details of your proposed international travel. For instance, the longer the duration of your trip, the greater your risk of exposure to travel-related health hazards. Your travel itinerary also plays an important role in risk assessment, as the disease risk and other health risks may be more significant at some travel destinations compared to others. The following are some common travel health risks to consider when planning a trip abroad, according to the World Health Organization:

Environmental risks

  • Heat and humidity
  • UV radiation from the sun
  • Foodborne and waterborne health risks
  • Altitude
  • Animals and insects
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Travelers’ diarrhea

Infectious diseases

  • Foodborne and waterborne diseases
  • Bloodborne diseases
  • Vector-borne diseases
  • Airborne diseases
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Diseases transmitted by animals
  • Diseases transmitted via soil

Road traffic accidents

Swimming or water sports accidents

Interpersonal violence

Mental health risks 

For more information about preventative measures and travel safety for international trips or to schedule a risk assessment, contact BASS Primary Care today. 

At BASS Primary Care Walk-in Clinic, it's Your Health, Your Schedule.