Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Country of the Month: Brazil!

The country we will be featuring this month is Brazil.

What draws people to visit Brazil? The Amazon rain forest, fantastic beaches, talented soccer players, CARNIVAL! If, somehow, you are able to cover the distance by car or by bus, you will feel like you have been in several different countries, because Brazil seems like a continent in itself, containing different cultures, languages, history, architecture, gastronomies and more!

So before you start booking flights, packing and finding a good house sitter let us first get to know Brazil.

  • Brazil is the biggest country (covers nearly 47.3% of the continent) in South America and it borders every other country of the continent except Chile and Ecuador.
  • The seasons in Brazil are opposite from the seasons in the USA.
  • Languages: Portuguese (official), Spanish, English, French
  • Currency in Brazil is known as the Real (BRL).

Hopefully these few facts will help you learn more about this exotic and beautiful country.

We are just getting started on a month long journey of exploring Brazil and what makes it a great destination for travel. If you were contemplating travel to Brazil, you are probably full of questions, so please post them in the comments section.

Thank you to Mongabay.com, brazilbeaches.org, destination360.com for the great info for this blog.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Flu: Child Killer

Influenza-related deaths in children are tragic.

Nine child deaths from laboratory confirmed influenza-related complications have been officially reported to CDC so far during the 2008-09 flu season.

Vaccination remains the best method for preventing influenza and its potentially severe complications in children and adults.

These deaths are a somber reminder of the importance of protecting children from the flu – especially those at high risk from serious flu-related complications.

Thanks to the CDC for the video below. It was included in a previous post, but the need to show it again is so strong.

More videos : Faces of Influenza

Monday, February 16, 2009

Shingles and Traveling

Question: Can I travel with Shingles?

This is best answered with a little information about this disease. Warning: some of the following pictures are a little graphic, but are a great illustration of the impact Shingles can make.

Shingles or Herpes Zoster is a disease caused by the varicella virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you’ve contracted the varicella virus, it never completely leaves the body, lying dormant along the nerve pathways. Sometimes however, it is reactivated when disease, stress or aging weakens the immune system.

Shingles can first appear as flu-like symptoms with general malaise, sensitivity to light, tingling, itching or pain on one side of the body or face and progresses to a painful, blistering rash along the path of one or more nerves. As seen below:

It is characterized by excruciating pain. The rash is usually limited to one side of the body and may blister. The blisters will fill with fluid and eventually crust over. It generally takes 2 to 4 weeks for the blisters to heal.


Your risk for shingles increases as you age. Almost half a million cases in the United States occur each year in people 60 years of age and older. Over 90% of adults in the US have had chickenpox and are at risk for shingles. Up to half of all people living to age 85 will develop shingles during their lifetime. It is estimated that up to 800,000 people in the United States suffer from shingles each year, and the incidence is expected to increase as the population ages.

MOST people choose not to travel while afflicted with Shingles and that is a wise decision.
Fluid from shingles blisters is contagious and direct exposure can cause chicken pox in the unvaccinated or those without a history of having had chickenpox, so it's best to stay home and avoid the spread to the unprotected. The Shingles vaccine, Zostavax TM , is available at all Passport Health locations and is for people aged 60 years and up ( Dependent upon health and family history, it could be prescribed for those younger. Be sure to see your doctor for the proper recommendations). See the video below for a personal story of how Shingles can change your life.

Shingles Vaccine - video powered by Metacafe

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bill Gates releases a jar of mosquitoes into the audience

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been funding research for Malaria since 2000. Below is a short clip of a speech Bill gave at the TED conference about the rampant spread of Malaria and how the simple use of bed nets and bug spray can help to significantly decrease the spread of the disease. He released a jar of mosquitoes stating
"...there's no reason only poor people should have the experience"

For more information about Malaria visit our website.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Travel Medicine FAQ

You ask, We answer:

  1. Q: How far ahead of my trip should I get my shots?

    A: We recommend 4-6 weeks before travel, but you may certainly come in sooner than that. Depending on the vaccine you can be protected for 2 years up to a lifetime, so sooner is better than later when it comes to getting immunized. There are so many other things to worry about while traveling, so don't leave YOUR HEALTH to the last minute. We definitely are not the first to say 'if you don't have your health, you don't have anything', right?

  2. Q: Do I need things other than vaccinations?

    A: That all depends on where you are going. You may need Malaria prevention medication. There are also medicines available for effective prevention and treatment of traveler's diarrhea, altitude sickness and more. The most important item is to be well informed on the proper precautions needed to stay safe and healthy while traveling abroad. The best way to obtain up-to-date travel health information is by meeting with a Travel Medicine Specialist.

  3. Q: So, how come I cant find a list of all the shots I need?

    A: Every traveler is different. There are some routine immunizations that will most likely be recommended to everyone such as Hep. A & B and Typhoid., but immunization and medication recommendations depend on many variables like: length of stay, type of travel—back packing vs. 5 star accommodations, time of year—rainy vs. dry season, altitude vs. sea level, prior immunization history, medical history, rural vs. urban, any current outbreaks reported, etc. Our nationwide staff is comprised of professionals that include board-certified physicians and registered nurses who have completed rigorous training in the field of travel medicine and immunology. Why not let them do all the hard work?

More Questions? We'd love to hear them. Send us your questions and let us know what you think about the blog. What else would you like to hear about? We want to know!