I would say that I am a pretty fearless soul, and I will try anything once. At times I think back about the things that I have done (especially while I travel) and laughingly question my level of sanity. With that being said, my first priority is ensuring that I am healthy enough to enjoy the culture and city that I am in.
I've been dreaming about going to India for over a decade, and after meeting (a now close) friend while I was studying in Italy, it has forever been on my bucket list. This friend is from and is a current resident in Delhi. For years I've promised to visit her, and finally this year it felt right. India is not a place you go to for your first trip abroad, and it is definitely not for the faint of heart....or so I've heard. So after booking my ticket in March of this year, I decided to research what I needed to do to keep myself healthy and able to enjoy one of the most beautiful journeys I would be lucky enough to go on.
After discovering that travel clinics do exist, and that I actually had one in Seattle, I made an appointment. It was about a 3 week wait to make an appointment, with all of the expenses having to be dealt with that day, and out of pocket.
I arrived at my appointment, filled out a detailed questionnaire about my itinerary, as well as more information about my health history. After my name was called I was brought into the most colorful office, filled with a postcard clad map, various currencies from around the world, and the warm face of another soul searching traveler.
During the appointment, here is what we covered, and what might be helpful to you if you are anticipating going to India anytime soon.
1. Itinerary & Malaria Risks: She printed out a map of India, we went through my itinerary, and determined if any of the cities I was going to be in were high malaria risk. We determined I'd be as risk around 10 days, so she prescribed me 10 pills.
2. Shots: She was really great at walking me through the list of suggested shots, and letting me know the risks and benefits of every choice she was giving me. She walked me through the pros and cons and the probability that I would actually contract the "said" virus.
Here are the shots that I actually got:
-Hepatitis A Vaccine: Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus and can be contracted through contact with the feces of people who are infected. It can also be contracted from food, water, and objects containing the virus. I don't have severe life-threatening allergies, so I decided this was a shot I needed.
-Tdap Vaccine: This is to prevent Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis. Tetanus causes painful muscle tightening and stiffness, usually all over the body, Diphtheria can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis, and death, and Pertussis causes severe coughing spells which causes difficulty in breathing. All of these are rare in the US, and are caused by bacteria. I was due for my Tetanus shot, and since this lasts 10 years, I opted to get this one.
-Typhoid Vaccine: Typhoid fever is a serious disease, and is caused by bacteria that essentially causes high fever, fatigue, weakness, stomach pains, headaches, loss of appetite, and sometimes a rash. If not treated, 30% of the people who get it, can die. People generally get typhoid from contaminated food and water. Since I knew there was a high risk of that in India, I opted to get this shot.
3. Prescribed Medication: There were two medications she recommended I bring with me to ensure that I stayed healthy on my trip. Here are the two I decided to get:
A. Malaria Pills: We went through my itinerary and tracked my destinations on the updated Malaria map (see the 2017 version below). You can contact Malaria through animal or insects, and also by any blood products. Mosquitos don't usually like my blood, but I was not risking it.
B. Anti-Diarrhea Medication: This helps aid and prevent travelers diarrhea, which is the most common illness affecting international travelers. I definitely didn't want Delhi Belly, so this was a must. In addition to this, I am planning to bring a water filter (and filter even my bottled water), as well as ingesting Di-Gize Essential Oil before I eat. Upset stomach and diarrhea is really the biggest thing I am worried about on my trip.
If you have any questions in regards to my experience please feel free to email me. I have also attached the documents pertaining to the areas I will be traveling to. If you are in the Seattle area and would like to visit the travel clinic please see the address and link below.
Happy traveling! :)
Travel Clinic at Downtown Public Health Center
2120 4th Ave.
Bellisima = "Extremely Beautiful" in Italian, and how i would describe the world, and how I view it through travel.