At-Risk Australians Travelling Light When It Comes To Health
Adventurous Australians are putting themselves at risk of potential diseases while travelling overseas, with new figures showing less than half (46 per cent) of travellers to at-risk destinations* sought health advice before their trip1.
New research of Australian travellers conducted by Lonergan Research on behalf of Sanofi Pasteur reveals that many are unaware of the health risks while overseas, and carefree attitudes are potentially putting them in harm’s way.
Destinations such as South-East Asia and South America are popular hot-spots among travellers. In fact, at-risk destinations comprise over half of all resident departures from Australia (52 per cent). However, these destinations also pose a high risk of illness from food and water-borne diseases like typhoid and hepatitis A.
”Australians are known for their love of travel and love to experience the culture and cuisine that these countries have to offer. This however may expose them to many potential health risks.
The good news is that many of these risks can be avoided or prevented with the right knowledge and behaviour, which is why a visit to your GP or travel doctor should be an essential part of any overseas travel plans.” said Doctor Eddy Bajrovic, the Medical Director of Travelvax Australia.
One of the groups at greatest risk when travelling overseas are those visiting friends and relatives in their country of origin. The study reveals nearly one in three (29 per cent) incorrectly believe they are less likely to get sick due to a perceived natural immunity, the belief that if they were born and raised in the country they are travelling to, they maintain immunity and vaccinations aren’t needed1. Unfortunately, this is not true.
One in four Australians travelling to at-risk destinations fell ill on their last trip and 43 per cent of those had to seek professional medical assistance, with younger travellers more likely to fall ill1.
And as the survey shows, it’s often the everyday aspects such as sharing a meal that can cause serious illnesses, with half of travellers (49 per cent) believing they got sick as a result of something they ate or drank1.
Celebrity chef and frequent traveller, Adam Liaw says being prepared is the key to ensuring your trip isn’t cut short due to contaminated food or drink:
“The cuisines and flavours of different countries are often the best part of travelling. However, no matter how often you travel, or even if you are from the country you’re travelling to, there’s no guarantee you’re protected against contaminated food or water. So before I travel overseas, I always speak to my GP about what precautions I should take.”
The survey shows however that less than half (46 per cent) of at-risk Australian travellers follow Adam’s lead and visited their GP for travel health advice, and nearly 1 in 4 (23 per cent) of Australian travellers to an at-risk destination did not seek any health information or advice1.
Dr. Bajrovic warned “While the vast majority of Australians consider travel insurance for their trips, many don’t seek pre-travel health advice from a healthcare professional before going overseas. Some travellers don’t realise that they might be at risk of diseases and that preventative measures, including vaccination, might be recommended for the destination they are travelling to.”
Dr.Bajrovic recommends all Australians visit their GP or travel doctor before travelling overseas, ideally six weeks beforehand.
For advice on your health requirements, including vaccinations and medications that may be required for your next trip, talk to your doctor at least 6 weeks before travelling.
To find out about vaccine-preventable diseases, keep up-to-date with the latest in travel health and learn how to protect yourself from disease at home and abroad, visit http://vaccinehub.com.au/travel-vaccination-advice.
Notes to Editors:
The Travel Vaccines Study survey developed by Sanofi Pasteur and conducted by Lonergan Research, May 2015, completed by 1,041 Australian travellers.
- At-risk countries comprise of over half of all overseas travel from Australia (52%)2
- Nearly half (49%) of the travellers going to at-risk destinations go unvaccinated1
- 1 in 4 Australians travelling to at-risk destinations fell ill on their last trip, with three quarters saying it negatively affected their trip1
- Half (49%) who got sick believe they caught something from eating and drinking1
- Younger at-risk travellers (18-29) are more likely to have fallen ill1
- 43% of at-risk travellers who fell sick had to seek medical assistance while overseas1
- Over half (56%) of Australian travellers to at-risk destinations have brushed their teeth with tap water1
- Nearly half (47%) who travelled to a at-risk region have had a drink with ice in it1
- 1 in 5 Australians drank tap water while overseas1
- Another study revealed that in NSW, more than two-thirds of documented cases of hepatitis A were related to overseas travel; 46% were travellers themselves, but 23% were through household contact of returned travellers3
For tips on how to avoid illness overseas, Dr. Eddy Bajrovic is available for interviews and comment.
Sanofi, a global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. Sanofi has core strengths in diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT:SAN) and in New York (NYSE:SNY).
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers a broad range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company’s heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com.
*At-risk destinations are defined as regions with a known risk of contracting infectious diseases, for which vaccinations and other precautions are recommended.
1. Survey developed by Sanofi Pasteur and conducted by Lonergan research, May 2015, completed by 1,041 Australian travellers
2. ABS residents departure – MAT July 2015
3. Freeman E, et al. NSW Pub Health Bull 2012;23 (7-8):153–157. There were 1203 hepatitis A notifications in NSW from 200-2009, of which risk factor data were available for 886. The figure shows the percentage of cases for different risk factors.