Latest News

 * By Ruth Anderson

Cuba is poised to emerge from its time warp.

So, if the Caribbean island famous for missiles (well, briefly), Castro, Hemmingway, cigars, and fabulous music is on your travel Bucket List, take my advice. Go soon.

Cuba is the hot travel destination right now, going on the number of calls Travelvax Australia’s free travel health advice line (1300 360 164) is currently getting from Australians keen to find out more about staying healthy in Cuba.

Cuba has always held a special romance for travellers, but I suspect that with the 65-year freeze in diplomatic relations between Cuba and the USA finally thawing, an avalanche of American tourists will soon be queuing to visit the island.

I visited Cuba in 2002. To me, it will always be the sizzling sounds of the Buena Vista Social Club, bars churning out Mojitos, Daiquiris, and Cuba Libres, the fusion of Spanish–Caribbean cuisine, and city streets resplendent with classic American cars (held together with chicken wire) and Spanish colonial architecture.

Ahhh, Cuba. Experience it – soon.

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By Dr Eddy Bajrovic*

He’s in a sharp suit, reclining in a leather seat, with laptop open as the smiling flight attendant serves a scotch and soda…

Who could have too much of that? Surely, a jet-setting lifestyle filled with new faces in new places is the stuff of dreams – whether it’s clinching a business deal or rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous in the world’s iconic destinations.

At least, that’s the image of frequent flyers depicted in TV ads and glossy in-flight and travel magazines.

But, there is a dark side to this so-called ‘hypermobility’: One the media ignores and the rest of us don’t see, according to Dr Scott Cohen, from the University of Surrey in England. Dr Cohen headed a team of British and Swedish researchers who investigated how frequent long-distance travel is represented in mass and social media – and the actual reality.

They found that the glamourous images skip over a raft of potentially damaging side effects ranging from jet-lag, to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and excessive (atmospheric) radiation exposure. Not to mention the stress and loneliness that can come from frequently being far from family and friends. 

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By Dr Eddy Bajrovic*

Smoke has been making headlines in Indonesia.

A 24-year-old Queensland man recently received a one-year jail sentence for smoking cannabis on a Bali beach – yet another reminder of Indonesia’s well-documented hard line on drug taking and trafficking by foreigners.

But, international visitors have been far more concerned about the ‘smoke’ rising from East Java’s Mount Raung volcano in recent weeks.

The resulting clouds of volcanic ash have meant costly delays in leaving Bali and other Indonesian destinations as airports were closed and flights cancelled. Many visitors found themselves out of pocket when their travel insurance did not cover costs associated with cancellations once the possibility of delayed departures was made known.

However, some Aussie travellers were worried about the possible impact on their health. (So far, Travelvax Australia has received no reports of respiratory conditions and we’re not anticipating any: Bali’s popular tourist enclaves are 140km from the still-smouldering volcano.)

Should travellers be at all concerned about Mount Raung, or other destinations with active volcanoes nearby? After all, Hawaii’s volcanoes are a tourist attraction, with visitors able to take helicopter flights over them, right?

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By Dr Eddy Bajrovic*

Mosquirix is the world’s first malaria vaccine. Sadly, it’s not the complete solution we’ve been hoping for.
The new vaccine won’t benefit international travellers. Those at risk will have to continue to take anti-malaria medication and use bite-prevention measures to avoid the potentially fatal disease.
Instead, Mosquirix – a combination malaria-Hepatitis B vaccine – will mainly be used to protect young children in the worst-affected areas of Africa.
Developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, the 3-dose vaccine was found to be effective against falciparum malaria in just 31% of the children aged 6 to 12 weeks who received it, rising to 56% in older children aged 5 to 17 months.
In addition, Mosquirix’s malaria protection wanes after one year, although a fourth dose given as a booster extends its longevity.

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By Tonia Buzzolini*

My kids, Giacomo and Kiara love animals, especially dogs. Here they are with Aramis, our big, boofy Doberman, who they adore.
Which makes it very difficult to convince them that they can’t pat dogs – even cute little puppies – when we holiday overseas.
Why do I worry about my children around dogs? Rabies.
Rabies occurs just about everywhere and, if left untreated, is virtually always fatal. The vast majority of deaths are caused by dogs, although cats, bats and other mammals are capable to being infected and passing on the deadly virus to people.
When an animal gets rabies the virus is carried in their saliva. When it bites another animal or a person, the virus passes into the wound and travels via nerve fibres to the brain, causing irreversible brain damage. Less commonly, infection can also occur from a scratch if the animal’s paw is contaminated with its saliva, or by licking a wound or the victim’s mucous membranes (i.e. their eyes, nose or mouth).

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By Laurie Sullivan

There are guidelines for travellers with obvious special needs: pregnant women, unaccompanied children, passengers in wheelchairs, and those needing oxygen.
However, there’s a glaring gap when it comes to the growing number of passengers with a less obvious condition – dementia.
Yet guidelines are needed urgently, according to the woman who is championing the cause.
“The effects of dementia can range from mild to severe, but it isn’t always easy to recognise,” dementia researcher, Dr Maria O'Reilly, said.
“Anecdotally, we know people with dementia have died while travelling. One woman who was unaccompanied on a flight to the USA simply walked out of the airport after she wasn’t collected only to be found dead several days later.
“There have also been incidents on cruise ships. Recently, a woman with dementia and her husband were put ashore at a port-of-call during a cruise because of disruptive behaviour.”

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