CDC Travelers’ Health

CDC Travelers' Health
Keeping international travelers informed.

By Hope S. Philbrick

Last night, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shared safe travel tips with members of Atlanta Travel Massive. Leading the discussion was Carolina Urbine, MPH, public health advisor with the Division of Global Migration & Quarantine.

“Disease can get from one place in the world to another in 24 hours,” she says. How? Travel. U.S. residents made 68 million international trips in 2014, a number she says continues to climb each year.

The zika virus, which is spread by mosquitoes and is a new growing concern worldwide, is already in 39 countries. Only one in five people who get infected with the zika virus will get symptoms, which include rash, fever and red eyes. Pregnant women and men having sex with pregnant women need to take extra precautions because the risks to fetuses are severe. “The zika virus stays in your system for seven days, but can live much longer in semen,” says Urbine.

CDC Travelers' Health

When choosing an insect repellent, look for one that is at least 20% deet. It’s important to first apply suntan lotion and then apply bug repellent.

Healthy Travel Checklist

Before a trip…

During a trip…

  • Know where you can get care if the need arises.
  • Know the risks and make informed choices accordingly.
  • Never eat bushmeat.
  • Don’t interact with animals—“rabies is very real,” says Urbine.
  • Consume only safe drinking water.
  • Protect yourself with good habits.

After a trip…

  • Finish any prescribed malaria pills or other prescribed medications.
  • Monitor your health.
  • If you get sick, tell your doctor details about where you traveled and what you did on the trip.
    • How long did you stay?
    • Where did you stay?
    • Did you get any bug bites?
    • Did you engage in any activities that may have exposed you to something (e.g., get a tattoo or piercing, engage in unprotected sex, swim in fresh water, etc.)?

“You are your best advocate,” says Urbine.

Being an informed traveler is key to protecting yourself. The CDC offers a wide range of information to help—use it!

More Information…

Sign up to receive the CDC Travel Notices RSS feed. Go to and click the “subscribe” link next to any topics of interest.

Sign up today to receive email updates about the CDC Travelers’ Health website. Go to and click “subscribe.” Check the boxes next to any topics of interest. (Scroll down to see the options for Travelers’ Health.)

CDC Travelers' Health

– Images courtesy CDC

HSP15Hope S. Philbrick is founder and editor-in-chief of Getaways for Grownups. She became a freelance writer and editor because she believes that work and fun should not be mutually exclusive. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications nationwide. When not writing, she can usually be found on the road or savoring something tasty.

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