Focus on Infectious Disease

UConn Health International Travelers’ Medical Service

Travel is back!

During the darkest moments of the pandemic, each of us has longed to be away from our Zoom world, out of lockdown, and enjoying freedom of movement with the possibility to go on new adventures or visit loved ones abroad. Although the pandemic is still quite active in many parts the developing world, the United States may be emerging from the worst of the pandemic and international travel is slowly rebounding. The UConn Division of Infectious Diseases is poised to meet our travelers’ needs as the world re-opens to a radically altered travel environment.

The restructuring of work culture during the pandemic has given way to unintended consequences including the reframing of the concept of leisure, with the realities of post-pandemic travel likely to not only include the realities of wide-ranging COVID regulations, but also a focus on “low travel” (ground transportation such as trains and buses), less frequent but longer stays, and a general change in ethos from quantity of locations experienced to a greater quality of an experience that may have greater immersion at fewer locations.

Drs. Nina Carley, Kevin Dieckhaus, and Mary Snayd operate the UConn International Travelers’ Medical Service, with sites in West Hartford and Farmington. This service has been an operation since 1984 and has evaluated over 1100 patients annually prior to the near-complete shutdown of international travel due to the pandemic. With the recovery of the travel industry and increased international bookings, the International Travelers Medical Service has responded by increasing the availability of travel related consultations. The travel consultation entails a detailed analysis of travel-related health risks based on itinerary, planned activities and exposures, and personal health conditions. Based on these factors, we develop a detailed and personalized preventive health plan.

The clinic stocks a wide variety of vaccines that may be required for maintain good health in low-resourced areas. The clinic is an official Yellow Fever Vaccination Center. Yellow fever vaccine, which is mandatory for entry into some countries in South America and Africa, had been unavailable due to manufacturing shortage since 2018 but is now back in stock and available. Other vaccines for Hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis, typhoid, polio, rabies, meningitis, hepatitis B, and tetanus are available on site for immediate administration as indicated. For travelers going to areas with malaria, prescriptions for appropriate malaria medications will be provided with other prevention strategies. Medications for management of travelers’ diarrhea, the most common medical event associated with travel, are also provided. Country-specific guidance on COVID-19 regulations are discussed in detail to allow appropriate planning of itineraries, medical testing and contingency plans.

Travelers should ideally plan to be evaluated 6 to 8 weeks before anticipated departure to allow adequate time for vaccination to be effective. Patients may be seen in-person with on-site inoculations, or by telemedicine with follow-up nursing appointments scheduled for any inoculations that may be necessary. Families traveling together are encouraged to be evaluated as a group. Adults and children 16 years of age or older may be seen in Farmington. Children and families with children can be seen in West Hartford. To make an appointment with the International Travelers’ Medical Service, please call 860-679-2411 or refer through Epic as “Ambulatory Referral to Travel Clinic”.