Travel Medical Issues

Unhappy News

Unhappy News 1280 855 Greg Ellifritz

The US government announced yesterday that all air travelers arriving in the USA after January 26, must have evidence of a negative Covid-19 test within three days of their travel.  It will be a horrible blow to the travel economy and will limit a lot of Americans’ travel plans.


U.S. Will Require All International Arriving Passengers To Have A Covid-19 Test



This is a really poor public policy. The USA has the worst rate of infection of any country on the planet. Who are we “protecting” at home when we bar someone from entry when he is coming from a nation that has a lower infection rate than the USA?
Countries in the developing world do not have the same capacity for testing that the US has. Travelers simply may not even be able to get tests.
I’m in Mexico right now. Currently, without a testing requirement, the labs down here are scheduling PCR tests 7-10 days out. Mexico doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to do them any faster. As soon as the USA implements this requirement on the 26th, there will be massive new demands for testing and no ability to satisfy those demands.
People estimate down here that it may take two to three weeks to get tested after the new requirement is in place.
And keep in mind that I am in a very developed part of Mexico looking at a long wait for a test. How are you going to get tested in rural Uganda or the Peruvian jungle?  I had plans to travel to both of those locations in 2021.  This ruling will either prohibit me from traveling there or force me to stay an extra three days in a big city in one of those countries waiting for my test results to come in.
The requirement will effectively stop any “long weekend” international travel.  It will also make larger families stop traveling internationally.  With the tests costing $100-$150 each way, it gets really expensive to take your spouse and three kids on an international getaway.
What I also find curious is that you will be able to fly with a negative test or proof that you’ve already recovered from a past case of Covid-19.  Having taken both doses of the vaccine isn’t good enough.  What does that say about the government’s true opinion of the efficacy of the vaccination?
The only thing this restriction will do is to further destroy the travel industry and create a huge market for forged testing results.
It’s a good thing I got a six-month travel visa here in Mexico.   I may be stuck for awhile.  That might not be a bad thing.  Overall, people in Mexico seem to be far more sensible about effective precautions than the politicians in the USA.

Health Care in Mexico

Health Care in Mexico 748 420 Greg Ellifritz

Mexico is a prime destination for American expats.


My favorite Mexican ex-pat blogger recently posted an incredible resource for people living in or visiting Mexico.


Great Site to Find Doctors in Mexico, Check Reviews, Compare Prices and Schedule Appointments


This will make finding and booking good medical care much easier for those of you spending time in Mexico.

Environmental Medicine

Environmental Medicine 200 181 Greg Ellifritz

Interested in a summary of the best practices for practicing environmental medicine? Those skills are important when you are spending time outside in austere environments.

Here’s a link to papers covering best practice medical treatments for heat injuries, hypothermia, and altitude illness.  This is really good knowledge to have.


AIR Series: Environmental Module

Long Term Travel Insurance Policies

Long Term Travel Insurance Policies 780 520 Greg Ellifritz

I’ve written about travel insurance policies in the past.  Many of the short term trip insurance policies become very expensive if you are staying long term or actually living in a foreign country.


Check out the link below to find some less expensive plans for long term travelers.


5 BEST Digital Nomad Health Insurance Plans for Long-Term Travel (2020)

Mammalian Bite Wounds

Mammalian Bite Wounds 184 37 Greg Ellifritz

When you travel in the developing world, your risk of getting bitten by stray cats, dogs, and feral rats increases significantly.  One of the most important skills you should have is to know how to handle animal bite wounds.


The article linked below covers the basics for treating a bite wound.  You’ll note that the most commonly prescribed antibiotic for animal bite wounds is Augmentin.  I always carry some of it in my travel medical kit.  If your personal doc won’t prescribe a dose for you to take on your trip, you can generally buy it without a prescription in most developing world pharmacies.


Mammalian Bites: ED presentations, evaluation, and management

Covid-19 Travel Insurance Options

Covid-19 Travel Insurance Options 750 500 Greg Ellifritz

Many countries are now requiring that arriving passengers now show proof of insurance specifically covering Covid-19.  This is a very thorough article covering many of the available insurance options.


Travel Insurance During Covid-19 What You Need to Know

Tonsillitis In Austere Settings

Tonsillitis In Austere Settings 300 168 Greg Ellifritz


The basics of diagnosing and treating tonsillitis when definitive medical care is unavailable.  If you travel with children, this is critical information.


Wound Closure with Super Glue

Wound Closure with Super Glue 225 225 Greg Ellifritz

In very remote areas without available medical attention, it might be necessary to close a wound.  Doing so with steri-strips is the easiest method, but steri-strips don’t always work in extremely wet conditions.


The next best option is to use a tissue glue.  Super Glue or Crazy Glue is of a very similar chemical composition and may be easier to find.  I always carry a tube of the gel superglue in my third world first aid kit.


The article below goes into great detail about how to effectively use the glue to close a laceration.  Highly recommended.


Skin Glue in Survival

Marine Animal Bites and Stings

Marine Animal Bites and Stings 768 506 Greg Ellifritz

Adventure travelers often play in the ocean.  Ocean snorkeling, diving, swimming, surfing, and kayaking all expose on to the chance of being bitten or stung by some aquatic critters.


Over the years, I’ve experienced many of these envenomations.  Lots of jellyfish stings.  My sea kayaking tour guide got stung by a stingray in Belize.  It laid him up for a couple days.  This can be very serious stuff if you aren’t careful.


Even those of you who visit “tame” locations should still be cautious.  Last month I wanted to test my new snorkel mask before taking an ocean excursion.  I waded into the ocean off the beach of our five-star resort in Cancun.  I was in water about three feet deep and dove in.  I was instantly face to face with a pissed off stingray.  I’m amazed I didn’t get stung.


This is a compilation of simple first aid tips for handling marine animal bites and stings in the field.


Marine Animal Bites and Stings

Eye Injuries

Eye Injuries 300 214 Greg Ellifritz

Treating eye injuries in remote locations is a topic that doesn’t get enough attention.  These injuries are fairly common and can certainly wreck your trip or force and expensive evacuation if not managed correctly.


In Approach to the Red Eye, you’ll find a quality tutorial on diagnosing and treating common eye injuries in the field.  Check it out if you are at all interested in remote medical care.



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