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British Holiday Makers Urged To Ignore Common Travel Health Myths

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Health experts, led by TV's Dr Pixie McKenna have joined forces to dispel common travel health myths ahead of the main summer holiday season.


As part of the recently launched 8 Weeks To Go (http://www.8weekstogo.co.uk/) travel health awareness campaign, developed and funded by GlaxoSmithKline Travel Health, Dr Pixie McKenna aims to set the story straight on common myths such as; drinking Gin & Tonic will prevent malaria, friendly dogs won't have rabies1 and you won't become ill if you are staying in a luxury resort2.


Travel health specialist Dr Pixie says: "There are so many myths out there, which could be putting travellers at risk of unwelcome illnesses and diseases. One in two travellers has at some point suffered illness or injury abroad requiring medical attention, so I can't stress enough the importance of seeking reliable advice before heading overseas, particularly if you are travelling to more exotic locations. However, even countries just a few hours away can have very different disease risks to the UK."


She adds: "Credible sources of information for UK travellers to access, such as the 8 Weeks To Go campaign website are a good starting point. However, the precautions will vary from person to person depending on a number of factors so it's important to seek advice from a health expert who will be able to provide personal, up-to-date advice. I strongly recommend visiting your GP surgery, travel clinic or pharmacy 6-8 weeks before you travel so that you can separate the fact from the fiction."


Other common myths include:

  • Only dogs carry rabies3;
  • Vitamin B provides protection against malaria4;
  • Taking aspirin before flying will prevent DVT5;
  • People that have lived overseas are naturally immune to some diseases6;


Dr Pixie concluded: "Health is often one of the last things people think about before their trip but they need to realise that it's as equally important as other overseas holiday essentials such as passports and insurance. Travelling is one of life's great pleasures but you could ruin your holiday, or worse, by failing to seek appropriate advice before jetting off."


For more information and sources of authoritative travel health advice visit: http://www.8weekstogo.co.uk/.




  1. NaTHNaC - http://www.nathnac.org/travel/factsheets/documents/RabiesHISSep2009.pdf  [Accessed 20 May 2010]
  2. Dr. Jane Wilson-Howarth, 'Travel Health Risks Surgery', created for 8 Weeks To Go campaign press pack, March 2010
  3. Fit For Travel - http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/advice-for-travellers/animal-bites.aspx [Accessed 20 May 2010]
  1. Malaria - Chapter 7, in International Travel and Health report, World Health Organisation, 2007. Available at: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2007/9789241580397_7_eng.pdf [Accessed 20 May 2010]





This information has been provided by the 8 Weeks To Go campaign, a national campaign developed and funded by GlaxoSmithKline Travel Health, in association with Fit For Travel® (http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/), the Royal College of Nursing and a partner of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's Know Before You Go travel advice campaign.  The 8 Weeks To Go campaign aims to educate British travellers about the importance of seeking expert health advice before overseas travel.