Consumer Travel Confidence Improves, Emory's TravelWell Clinics Promote
Prevention before Traveling Abroad
The latest Travel
Confidence Survey by the Travel Industry Association of America shows
the highest percentage of Americans, since Sept. 11th, planning to take
at least one leisure trip in the next six months. Sixty-five percent
of Americans have leisure travel plans and sixty-six percent of business
travelers say they expect to take at least one trip in the first half
of the year.
Those statistics are good
news for Emory's TravelWell clinics. Located in the new Medical Office
Tower at Emory Crawford Long Hospital, with a branch in the Emory Clinic/Emory
University Hospital, the TravelWell clinics see a variety of patients
who are preparing to travel abroad. The staff conducts personal travel
assessments and physical exams while dispensing prescriptions, immunizations
and education about the patient's destination. Post-travel treatment,
if necessary, is also provided upon the patient's return.
"A preventive, pre-travel
education, in so many ways, should be one of the first things a person
considers when planning a trip abroad," says Phyllis Kozarsky, M.D.,
director of TravelWell and professor of medicine and infectious diseases
at Emory. "It only takes 24- to 36- hours to travel anywhere in the
world, which is less than the incubation period for many illnesses.
Knowing your risks and getting the proper immunizations and education
before you leave town are all vital parts of planning a good trip."
TravelWell provides services
to individual families, missionaries, volunteer organizations, and large
corporations, including Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and CNN. "At this
time, corporate business travelers make up about 50 percent of our clientele,"
Dr. Kozarsky points out. " Since Sept. 11, we've been seeing a number
of people coming in for vaccinations and prescriptions before traveling
to Afghanistan and Pakistan for extended periods of work. The clinics
are definitely catering to the business population now. But as spring
and summer both approach, we will likely see more leisure travelers."
The clinics also offer consultations with foreign visitors, immigrants
and refugees new to the Atlanta area.
A travel and tropical medicine
specialist, Dr. Kozarsky realized the need for TravelWell after returning
from a trip to India with acute pneumonia and a gastrointestinal illness.
"I was very sick and hospitalized for days," she remembers. "I got my
shots but did nothing else to avoid medical problems while I was in
India. Even though I am a physician, I wasn't a very well-prepared traveler."
TravelWell maintains around
the clock and up-to-the-minute information about specific health risks
and emerging diseases through a network called GeoSentinel, which Dr.
Kozarsky oversees. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), the network is described as a worldwide surveillance group of
physicians in 30 travel clinics designed to capture information on emerging
infectious diseases. The data from this unique network is used to develop
health recommendations for travelers.
One of the early pioneers
in the field of travel medicine, Dr. Kozarsky has been instrumental
in advancing clinical tropical medicine and traveler's health both professionally
and from a public awareness standpoint. She is one of the founding members,
and now president-elect, of the International Society of Travel Medicine,
a medical society whose goal is to educate health care professionals
and the public regarding travel, migration and refugee health issues.
"Because prevention is so
important when traveling to overseas destinations, we hope Atlantans
will take advantage of our services before they board the airplane,"
says Dr. Kozarsky.