Formerly known as the Rose Travel Clinic, Global Travel Health is the new name for the little corner of Rose Medical center where they give you a file folder of terrifying handouts on infectious, tropical diseases. I walked in full of hope, vaccinations record in hand, ready to say, “BOOYA, CHECK OUT THE TETNUS VACCINATION FROM 2005! Oh, and what’s that? Polio booster? BAM!” Then, I was handed this guy:
That’s my little friend, the Oral Typhoid Vaccine. It’s four pills that will prevent typhoid for 5 years. Cost? $70. Fair enough.
The fun didn’t stop there. In fact, it didn’t stop any time soon. Cambodia is considered high risk for Malaria – the mother of all mosquito-carried viruses. Well, at least the most well-known. It’s nocturnal, so the best prevention is a mosquito net over your bed and bug spray early in the morning. But when you’re dealing with conditions like this, you might need a little more:
The prescription? Doxycycline. My BEAUTIFUL Aunt Sue recommended Malarone, but GTH said that it will cost upwards of a grand for three months. The Peace Corps usually use Doxycycline. The only downside is that it will make me more vulnerable to sunlight, but, as the RN said, “You have great skin, anyway, so just put on sunscreen.”
Malaria may be nocturnal, but Dengue is around at all times of the day. Not only have my father and cousin contracted it in Somalia and the Philippines, respectively, it made the girl I’m replacing return to America. Most people are familiar with the disease because it killed Andy Irons, the world champion surfer, in 2010. He died of something called Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, which can happen if you’ve been infected more than once. Its fatality rate increases when you’re in a country that doesn’t normally see Dengue and doesn’t immediately recognize it. Andy died in Texas. There’s no treatment for it except liquids and Mom singing me to sleep.
Aunt Sue really scared the crap out of me with Japanese Encephalitis. GTH gave me FAQs on it, complete with a detailed rendering of the most frighteningly large mosquito on the planet.
Here’s what the Center for Disease Control has to say about it:
Symptoms of encelphalitis are fever, neck stiffness, seizures, changes in consciousness, or coma.
About 1 person in 4 with encephalitis dies. Of those who don’t die, up to half may suffer permanent brain damage.
It’s usually transmitted by mosquitos that hang out in rice fields. I think I’m one of the few people this country who can say, “yeah, the thing is…my mom has a rice field behind her house.” I’m averse to physical labor, so I can’t imagine I’d spend extended periods of time harvesting rice. In fact, I hesitated when the RN offered me the vaccine. Sure, it’ll keep my brain from swelling, but it was $245 per dose. You need two of them. Alas, I said, “OK FINE” and the booster appointment is on Friday the 13th.
Total, I got three shots today: a Hepatits A booster, Hepatits B, and Japanese Encephalitis. I have Typhoid pills in the refrigerator, and three prescriptions I need to fill before I leave: Doxycycline for malaria prevention, Malarone for malaria treatment, and Zithromax. Why Zithromax?
Recommended in areas of the world (mainly Thailand and India) where Cipro is no longer the drug of choice for diarrhea treatment.
Happy travels, adventurers!