It may be cold in most of the United States but summer is on the horizon and that means wedding season will be upon us. Planning a wedding is a long and arduous process that overtakes the involved parties from the initial wedding announcement to the eventual “I do.” Almost 25% of engaged US couples plan a destination wedding. That’s up 2% over the last 2 years. Out of the 350,000 destination weddings in 2012, 30% took place at offshore locations – Caribbean (39%), Mexico (24%), Hawaii (20%), Central and South America (7%) and Europe (6%.)
Potential health issues at the destination are often overlooked in the planning process. The Caribbean has been in the news recently with the devastating Chikungunya outbreak. Chikungunya is a mosquito borne viral disease affecting the Caribbean for the last one year. Besides this, there are other endemic diseases that the traveler needs to be aware of. Some may be prevented by vaccines, others by avoidance, and yet others may require the use of medications. Traveler’s Diarrhea is another common, travel related illness that can have devastating effects on a wedding party. There are simple food and water precautions that can be explained by a Travel Health Specialist. Additionally, your specialist may prescribe preventative medications for certain situations or provide appropriate antibiotics to use in case of illness.
To summarize, make a Travel Medicine Consultation part of your pre wedding plans. The recommendation applies to honeymoon travel as well. A simple internet search will probably bring you to the CDC website, which has destination specific health information. After this you need to find a physician that “specializes” in Travel Medicine, as studies have shown that the information from your Primary Care Physician may be inaccurate and they probably do not carry the relevant vaccines. The International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) was founded in 1991, and has over 3,000 members worldwide who specialize in Travel Medicine. The website www.istm.org is a great way to access accurate and consistent Travel Medicine information before your trip and they have a listing of certified clinics worldwide.
So we encourage you while planning your honeymoon, take the time to make sure your health is part of the check list. Bon Voyage.
Rajiv Narula MD DABFM, CTH
Board Certified Family Medicine
Certified Travel Health
Medical Director of International Travel Health Consultants
Providing Travel Medicine services in Poughkeepsie and NYC for 18 years.
Clients include IBM, CNN, CBS, Ernest Young.