Potential health hazards in travelers to Australia, New Zealand, and the southwestern Pacific (Oceania)

McDonald, Malcolm, Richards, Michael J., and Roberts, Sally (2012) Potential health hazards in travelers to Australia, New Zealand, and the southwestern Pacific (Oceania). In: Leder, Karin, and Baron, Elinor L, (eds.) UpToDate. Wolters Kluwer Health, pp. 1-13.

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[Extract] INTRODUCTION — Until the advent of rapid air travel, Australia and New Zealand (Australasia) and the countries of the southwest Pacific (Oceania) were considered "off the beaten track" for travelers from North America and Europe (figure 1). However, there has been an almost 200 percent upsurge of overseas visitors to the region over the last decade [1], with an increasing proportion of backpackers and adventurers visiting remote areas and staying in rudimentary accommodation. The region encompasses a remarkable diversity of geography, racial groups, cultures, technologic sophistication, and political systems.

In an attempt to simplify the approach for travelers going to and returning from Australasia and Oceania, three separate divisions have been arbitrarily chosen, although it is acknowledged that considerable overlap exists:

Temperate Australia and New Zealand — Most Australians live in coastal temperate regions and enjoy sophisticated medical services with good communications. This is also the case for both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Tropical and central Australia — The center of the continent and areas north of the tropic of Capricorn, called the "far north," are sparsely populated. There are large distances between population centers, and travel routes often pass through relatively inhospitable country. This is a unique environment with distinct patterns of disease [2] and fairly basic medical services. Oceania — The term Oceania includes the following countries in the southwest Pacific: Papua New Guinea (PNG), Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Pitcairn, Samoa, American Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, United States Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Wake Island, Wallis, and Futuna. Centers with busy tourist traffic often have adequate medical services, but many communities have only rudimentary services and are separated by long distances with irregular transport.

Pretravel advice should be based on the latest published recommendations [3] and, where appropriate, up-to-date local knowledge obtained from health authorities upon arrival. Initial assessment of travelers returning from Australasia and Oceania should be according to established principles [4-6]. We will focus on those conditions unique to, or unusually prevalent, in this region. Particular emphasis will be placed on infectious diseases, envenomations and bites.

Item ID: 22245
Item Type: Book Chapter (Other)
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Topic 3894 Version 5.0

Date Deposited: 05 Dec 2012 23:50
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences > 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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