More and more Canadian women are taking vacations with their girlfriends. A recent survey of Canadian women found that 59 per cent have already been on a “girlfriend getaway,” and 100 per cent would consider going on one in the future. Canadian women are taking girls only vacations to bond with their girlfriends (38 per cent), have quality “me time” (31 per cent), and escape from daily responsibilities (17 per cent).
“We know that ‘girlfriend getaways’ are relaxing and fun, but there’s nothing worse than letting your guard down only to find out you’ve contracted a preventable illness,” says Dr. Jay Keystone, Travel Medicine Specialist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto. “The trick is keeping on your toes – even when you’re letting your hair down – and protecting your health while on holiday.”
While more than three quarters (77 per cent) of women surveyed indicated concern for contracting travel illnesses like hepatitis A or B, their actions prior to leaving and when on vacation don’t reflect that concern.
Getting travel vaccinations is an important first step on the path to a healthier holiday, but almost two thirds (62 per cent) of Canadian women are not always seeking vaccination advice before travel. Diseases like hepatitis A and B can be contracted in popular sun spots like Mexico and the Caribbean, and getting vaccinated can help protect you against these two liver diseases, and make sure you only take home souvenirs. One month prior to departure women should talk to their doctor about travel vaccinations, including those for hepatitis A and B.
Women also need to avoid hepatitis hazards while away. Just two examples of common risks for liver disease include: only 40 per cent would stay away from uncooked foods and less than half (48 per cent) would avoid intimate relations with a local resident or another traveller; raw foods washed in contaminated water or handled by an infected food handler with improperly washed hands can become infected with hepatitis A. Unprotected sex with infected locals or other travelers can be a risk factor for hepatitis B.
To stay safer when travelling, women should check that their hotel room has two locks, including a deadbolt, keep both locked when in the room, and avoid using the “Please Make This Room Up” sign as it indicates no one is there. Also, women should always travel with a companion, dress down, and avoid wearing flashy jewellery.
For more information about hepatitis and liver health
Visit the Canadian Liver Foundation at liver.ca