Mt. Auburn Hospital Travel Medicine Center

Mon 26 July 2010

Today I learned about dengue fever, malaria, and the virtues of DEET.

My first visit to the Mt. Auburn Hospital Travel Medicine Center was educational.  I left with two sore arms, a folder of information,  and three more appointments scheduled.

The clinic seems very organized and accommodating to work schedules. They posted all the details of how to make an appointment, what to expect, and what to bring with me on line. I'm more of a web person than a phone person. I appreciated both that I could read and absorb all the information ahead of time, and that I could read it at midnight when I remembered it was on my to-do list for the week.  They also hold some evening clinic hours.

The visit went very smoothly.  I get the impression they see a lot of people and know their business.  There was very little lag time. The doctor was ready for me just as I finished a couple long questionnaires.  I was given a packet about Cambodia,   information about staying healthy while traveling, data sheets on all the vaccinations I received, and even some comparisons of mosquito repellent brands.  The nurse assembled vaccines while I made appointments with the receptionist.  I finished first, and spent a few minutes reading my new literature.   Three shots, a TB test, a final review of my next steps, and I was on my way.

There was a lot of information to absorb.  Glad I have a week until the next appointment.

The clinic had an optional survey, for their own research, that quizzed on some basic travel knowledge.  There were several questions on dengue, a.k.a. "breakbone fever".  From those carefully phrased, repetitive questions I deduced dengue fever is mosquito-borne, unpleasant, and has no vaccine.  If that's not enough, it's spread by daytime mosquitoes, while malaria rides with the nighttime bloodsucker shift.  I'm used to sunscreen as a matter of course, but a mosquito repellent habit will take some practice.

Some handy things I learned about travel medicine this week:

  • The magic insurance words for this kind of doctor visit is "travel preventive medicine and immunizations".  Use this phrase when you ask your medical insurance  about coverage.
  • Logan Airport and my university have travel clinics too. Makes sense.  The Blue Cross agent had a list of clinics available too.
  • Visit the travel clinic 8 weeks before traveling, if possible.  My last hepatitis shot will be delivered two days before I leave.
  • Consumer Reports has ratings of mosquito repellents in the July 2010 issue, as well as June 2006.  Your local library has a subscription, and may have online access.

Category: Health

Tags: health / tips /