What is Travel Medicine?

Travel Medicine is a relatively new field that was started in the 1980s. It was developed in response to a growing number of people making international trips, especially to less developed countries.

Thanks to great strides in public health, many common diseases have been eliminated in the United States. That is not the case, however, in many other countries around the world. Some countries still have problems maintaining a sanitary water supply. Other countries have diseases that Americans may not normally be exposed to. Lastly, a traveler may come into contact with insects and parasites not normally found in the United States.

The scale on which travel takes place today could hardly have been imagined even five years ago. Destinations that in the past were limited to soldiers, missionaries and explorers, are becoming commonplace choices for the ordinary traveler from the United States and other western countries. As the world becomes more integrated and businesses become more "globalized," there will be increased international travel. Travel to tropical and developing countries is expected to undergo unprecedented growth over the next five years.

Along with the increase in this type of travel comes exposure to health risks that, in large part, are new to Americans. In response to this, Travel Medicine has evolved as a distinct medical specialty. The principle aim of those involved in providing medical care for travelers is to prevent health problems before they occur. There are well-established preventive measures for almost every health issue that falls under the scope of Travel Medicine.