# Tuesday, April 7, 2015
                 
The Pan Am Games are coming to Toronto (Ontario, Canada), and are scheduled to run from July 10 to July 26. This blog article offers visitors some helpful traveling tips that discuss issues such as accommodations, expected weather, tipping customs, our electrical grid and medical insurance.
posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 6:34:42 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Tuesday, December 9, 2014
                 
Many Canadians love to head south of the border in search of great shopping deals. Many Canadians also cross the border without travel insurance protection, figuring they can get back across the border if illness or an accident occurs. However, it doesn't always happen this way, and an extended stay in an American hospital as a result of a serious medical emergency such as a heart attack is possible. What is also possible is a gargantuan hospital bill!
posted on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 8:03:05 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Friday, October 10, 2014
                 
Annual travel insurance, also known as multi-trip travel insurance, offers coverage for an unlimited number of trips within one year of the effective date. But when is a multi-trip travel insurance plan a better choice compared to a single-trip plan? Read on to find out.
posted on Friday, October 10, 2014 7:28:30 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Thursday, July 24, 2014
                 
We are sometimes asked if travel insurance covers acts of terrorism or war. The short answer to this is both "yes" and "no", depending on the type of travel insurance coverage as well as the insurance carrier that issued the travel policy. For the longer answer please read on!
posted on Thursday, July 24, 2014 7:00:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Tuesday, January 14, 2014
                 
There are risks when traveling abroad. Common dangers that immediately come to mind are vehicle accidents and sudden illnesses. The bizarre travel accidents described in this blog article, however, are not normally thought of. Remember that travel insurance costs just a few dollars away, and medical bills incurred while traveling can be gigantic!
posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2014 6:06:34 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Wednesday, November 6, 2013
                 
Canadians that travel within Canada and outside of their province of residence often assume that their provincial healthcare plan will cover all costs resulting from a medical emergency. Turns out this is not the case! Read on for further details.
posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 8:42:28 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Wednesday, December 12, 2012
                 
All Canadian airports must adhere to baggage and carry-on rules as set out by the CATSA (a Canadian federal agency). In addition airline companies have their own rules that govern carry on and baggage handling. But what are these Canadian airline rules and regulations? Read on to find out more!
posted on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 7:40:24 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Wednesday, May 26, 2010
                 
As of May 1, 2010, the Government of Cuba has declared that all travellers must be insured by a valid medical insurance policy prior to entering the country. This requirement applies to foreigners, Cubans living abroad, and foreign citizens who temporarily or occasionally reside in Cuba.

The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THIA) has confirmed that Cuban authorities will accept either a Provincial Health Insurance card or proof of private travel insurance coverage to meet this requirement. Lacking either of these documents, visitors will be obliged to purchase insurance from a Cuban carrier upon arrival.

Travellers should carry the following documentation in compliance with the new requirements:
  • Valid Canadian passport
  • Cuban Tourist Card or Visa
  • Provincial Health Insurance card
    • Each family member should have their own
    • Should not be relied upon as the only form of medical coverage, as provincial health insurance is extremely limited in terms of out of country coverage and does not pay up front as required by Cuban authorities (Note: you will not be allowed to exit the country with outstanding medical expenses)
  • Certificate of travel insurance coverage
    • Must include visible policy number and insurer name
    • It is recommended that this notice lists all covered dependents as well
  • Copy of covered expenses
Travellers are urged to contact their insurance carriers to confirm that their benefit plan is recognized by ASISTUR, the official insurance and assistance entity in Cuba. Those who are covered through their employers should do the same.

HealthQuotes.ca has received confirmation that two of Canada’s leading insurers – Standard Life and Sun Life Financial – have made the necessary arrangements with Cuban authorities. Both Europ Assistance (the travel provider of Sun Life Financial) and AXA Assistance (the travel provider of Standard Life) are recognized by ASISTUR.

We are confident that all other major insurers will follow.

For more information, please visit:
Note that travel insurance can be obtained through the HealthQuotes.ca website, or by calling a licensed advisor at 1-800-474-4474.

posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 1:21:39 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, April 28, 2010
                 
Recent layoffs at the Nova Scotia office that processes permanent residency cards and citizenship applications are expected to cause delays for immigrants to Canada who are planning to travel abroad this summer.

The Canadian Employment and Immigration Union reports that the contracts of approximately 147 administrative staff have ended and will not be renewed. As a result, the waiting time to process essential legal documentation may increase from 18 to 24 months, affecting the travel plans of immigrants who intend to visit family members outside of Canada.

Permanent residents who expect to travel are advised to review the expiry dates on their permanent residency cards and ensure that they will cover the duration of the trip, as valid documentation is required both to exit and enter the country. In the event that an extension is required, residents are urged to be prepared for a longer than usual processing period and adjust their travel plans accordingly.

Conversely, a representative from federal immigration insists that the layoffs will not cause substantial delays since the additional employees were hired to assist with a backlog to begin with.

Nonetheless, we remind readers to ensure that all travel documents are in place well ahead of time. In addition, travellers are encouraged to arrange for adequate travel insurance coverage prior to departure.

Travel insurance is an essential aspect of your trip. Accidents can happen anywhere, any time, and the peace of mind of having financial security will ensure that you enjoy a safe and pleasant holiday.

We offer a variety of comprehensive options from leading insurers and there are important differences with respect to the coverage available. One of our trained advisors will be glad to assist you in comparing and contrasting the numerous options to find a travel medical plan that best suits your needs.

Please visit www.healthquotes.ca for all of your travel insurance requirements. You can also call us toll-free at 1-800-474-4474 for a free travel consultation.

posted on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 1:58:46 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Thursday, January 7, 2010
                 
Travelers in Canada and the United States are experiencing delays in North American airports due to the recent incident aboard a Northwest Airlines flight. The flight had originated from Amsterdam and was scheduled to land in Detroit. A Nigerian man attempted to ignite an incendiary device on the flight Christmas Day, but succeeded only in starting a small fire. An Al Queda group in Yemen is claiming responsibility for the failed attack.

The Canadian government has announced that it has ordered 44 full-body scanners. Passengers departing from major Canadian airports and flying to the United States will then have a choice of either being scanned or submitting to a physical ‘pat down’ by an airport guard. The first dozen of the full-body scanners are due to be delivered by the end of next week and be operational by March. Airports in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Montreal, Halifax and possibly Gander are the first Canadian cities to receive the scanners. Other unspecified locations will receive scanners in the later months of 2010. Until the scanners are operational the Minister of State for Transport is recommending that all passengers traveling to the United States through Canada be automatically subjected to the secondary screening program. This would entail passengers being asked to submit to a physical pat-down or a full-body scan in addition to the already existing security measures.

The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has indicated that it will follow the recommendations of the federal privacy commissioner:
  • That the body scanners will be used only when a passenger fails a metal detector and then refuses a physical pat-down;
  • That the screening officers must be in a different room than the passenger and must not wear/have any identifying information.
The scan requires the passenger to pass through a stand-up probe that looks similar to a phone booth and takes approximately one minute. It works by projecting low level millimeter wave radio frequency energy over and around the passenger’s body. It is capable of peering beneath clothing to project a graphic three dimensional image of the person onto a computer screen in a remote room. There the security officer can detect weapons or explosive devices hidden beneath the clothing. The scan has already been approved for use in the United Kingdom as well as the Netherlands. In Canada the scan will not be used on anyone under the age of 18, due to the fears that the resulting images could possibly amount to child pornography.

For Canadians traveling to the United States, be advised that the new security measures will make wait times longer; allow for plenty of time to pass through Customs as well as the security checks. It is also advisable to call ahead and ask what exactly will the rules are regarding carry-on luggage and other items, i.e. laptop computers, cell phones.

posted on Thursday, January 7, 2010 4:39:31 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)  #   
# Monday, September 21, 2009
                 
Vancouver Canada will be the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics Games that will be running from January 22 until March 21, 2010. The actual event schedule has not yet been released, and will not be until much closer to the actual games date. Vancouver is estimated to have 350,000 visitors to their city for this spectacular event; 10,000 worldwide media representatives be also be attending to cover the games.

Vancouver has some brand new venues that will be showcased during the Olympics, including:

•    Richmond Olympic Oval: Opened in December of 2008, this multi-use waterfront facility will be hosting all the speed skating events.
•    Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre: Will be opening in February of 2009 and will be hosting all of the curling events.
•    Whistler Olympic/Paralympic Park: Opened in 2008, this will be the first Olymic venue to include all three Nordic events on one site: Cross-Country skiing, Ski Jumping and Biathlon.
•    Whistler Sliding Centre: Opened in December of 2008, this venue boasts the fastest track in the world and will host the Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton competitions.

Non-Canadian residents must purchase their tickets for through an Authorized Ticket Retailer from their respective National Olympic Committee. Although the majority of accommodations have already been reserved, there will be rooms available closer to the competition dates. For those who have yet to book their trip, it is wise to do so as soon as possible. This includes not only accommodations, but flights, car rentals, etc.

For those who are planning to visit British Columbia for the Olympics, but are not Canadian residents, it is important to realize that they will need travel insurance for their stay here. The 'free' Canadian health care system has been in the international news quite frequently; people may not understand that this does not apply to visitors to Canada. Non-Canadian residents who require medical treatment in Canada and do not have the proper travel insurance will be required to pay out-of-pocket; for a trip to a Canadian hospital emergency room, this can quickly add up to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in medical bills. Even the average cost of visiting a walk-in clinic in Canada can start at over $50.00, which covers just the basic visit; any additional medications/treatments will be additional.

HealthQuotes.ca advises all non-Canadians to purchase Visitors to Canada insurance in order to make sure that your visit to our great country does not end in unexpected medical bills that can be very expensive. Travel insurance is quite inexpensive, and well worth the peace of mind should something go wrong.

posted on Monday, September 21, 2009 3:54:08 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Sunday, May 3, 2009
                 
The World Health Organization has announced that the current influenza pandemic alert has been raised from phase 4 to phase 5.  They are suggesting that all countries immediately activate their pandemic preparations to combat this illness. Effective as well as essential measures to combat the swine flu include heightened surveillance, early detection and treatment, and infection control in all health facilities.

As of April 29, 2009, nine countries have officially reported cases of AH1N1 swine influenza infections. The countries with laboratory confirmed cases are:

•    Austria – 1 reported case, no deaths
•    Canada –85 cases, no deaths
•    Germany – 3 cases, no deaths
•    Israel – 2 cases, no deaths
•    New Zealand – 3 cases, no deaths
•    Spain – 4 cases, no deaths
•    United Kingdom – 5 cases, no deaths
•    United States – 91 cases, 1 death
•    Mexico – 26 cases, 7 deaths

These numbers are changing rapidly; so for more information, check the websites of the individual country for the latest confirmed case count.

The World Health Organization is responsible for identifying the phases of outbreaks, as well as defining what those phases are. They are currently defined as:

Phase 1: Influenza viruses circulating in animals, especially birds. Phase 1 does not include humans becoming infected.

Phase 2: Humans becoming infected by an animal influenza virus; potential for pandemic.

Phase 3: Animal and/or animal-human influenza virus causing limited disease in humans; human to human transmission is not widespread, but rather isolated.

Phase 4: Human to human transmission and/or human to animal transmission are confirmed, with widespread or community-level outbreaks. The risk of pandemic infection is much higher, but not yet considered a foregone conclusion.

Phase 5:
Human to human spread of the virus is confirmed in at least 2 countries in one WHO region; it is now likely that a pandemic is imminent.

Phase 6: The Pandemic Phase. Community outbreaks are now occurring in at least one country from a second WHO region; this indicates that a global pandemic is underway.

It is important for people and communities to realize that a pandemic does not indicate the severity of the influenza; but rather that the infection is happening. Cases that have currently been reported in Canada are all considered mild. Pandemic influenza is defined as a new influenza virus that is being spread easily between humans and is affected a wide geographic area. The term pandemic should not be equated with the severity of the infection.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs that is caused by the influenza A virus. Transmission to humans is rare, but does occasionally happen, resulting in H1N1 flu virus.  The virus in humans is a respiratory illness that has symptoms similar to those of regular human seasonal flu. However, the risk of animal influenza that is transmitted to humans is the potential for the virus to mutate and be directly transmitted human to human. The flu shot that many people receive each year does not protect those people from this virus; it is only effective for the seasonal flu that is expected to affect those people for that given year. The symptoms of swine flu are:

•    fever;
•    lack of appetite;
•    coughing and/or sneezing;
•    sore throat;
•    muscle aches;
•    fatigue;
•    runny nose and/or watery eyes.

Some people have also reported vomiting and/or diarrhea as well. For people with chronic conditions pneumonia may develop from infection of this virus. It is important to note that this is the first time that this strain of the flu virus has been identified in humans. There has been no documentation of this virus having a sustained infection rate in human to human transmission.

Canadian travelers are now being advised to postpone any elective and/or non-essential travel to Mexico. This advisory is in place until further notice; there is no time line yet of when this will be lifted. For those who are going to Mexico, they are advised to:

•    Wash hands frequently. Soap and water should be used often; alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a great way to keep hands sanitary when out in public with little access to public facilities (i.e. beach, pubic transit).
•    Practicing proper sneezing/coughing etiquette; use a tissue, your sleeve, or some other barrier method in order to reduce the spread of germs. After sneezing and/or coughing, make sure that hands are thoroughly washed.
•    Avoid physical contact with anyone who appears to be sick, and/or is displaying any of the symptoms.
•    Pay close and careful attention to local government and public health announcements daily. These announcements can include movement restrictions as well as prevention recommendations. These announcements can and do change frequently, so check often.
•    For those who are at higher risk of severe illness from influenza (i.e. people with diabetes, lung and/or heart disease, the elderly and children under 2 years), consult with your health care provider before travel.

For anyone who is in Mexico and develops symptoms of H1N1 flu virus, seek medial attention immediately. The Canadian Embassy as well as the consulate will be able to provide a list of physicians. The website of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade also has this information available. For those returning from Mexico, it is important to monitor for the symptoms for at least 7 days. Avoid contact with other humans and stay home until you have a confirmed diagnosis of your illness. Contact your health care provider immediately, and advise them that you have recently been to Mexico. If you are displaying symptoms when arriving back into Canada, advise the customs officer as well. You must also advise a customs officer or a quarantine officer if you have been near and/or in contact with someone who either has been confirmed as having this virus, and/or if it is suspected.

It is essential to advise the hospital, clinic, doctor's office, etc. that you have been to Mexico and may have been exposed to the swine flu virus. This will enable the healthcare professionals to promptly isolate you, and/or provide you with a mask in order to prevent any further transmission.

For updates on the swine flu in Canada, visit Health Canada's website. This gives information regarding new transmissions, where the new transmissions are located, as well as any updates on travel advisories. For those who are planning international travel, visit the World Health Organization's website for current information on the country you plan on visiting.

posted on Sunday, May 3, 2009 9:35:02 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, April 22, 2009
                 
Canada has now been in the news twice in the past week due to Canadian travelers experiencing difficulties. One incident was the hijacking of a Canadian commercial flight in Montego Bay, Jamaica, that was ultimately destined for Cuba. The other incident relates to Conquest Vacations not paying their bills, leaving Canadian tourists stranded as many were forced to come up with money for their hotel bills, which were included in their travel package.

Stephen Fray, a 20 year old Jamaican resident who has been described as being 'mentally challenged' stormed a CanJet Airlines flight, armed with a loaded gun. Fray forced his way past airport security, barging onto the jetliner and took the crew hostage. He fired a shot that grazed the co-pilot's face and then demanded to be flown off the island. The situation was ultimately resolved when a unit from the Jamaica Defence Force Counter Terrorism Operations Group stormed the aircraft and arrested the disturbed young man after 8 hours of negotiations did not resolve the crisis.

This incident however, is raising questions about airport security around the globe. In a post 911 world, where airport security has been dramatically increased, it's disturbing that an armed man with mental health issues could reach an aircraft with relative ease. Security personnel at Sangster International Airport are not armed. A former senior immigration officer at Pearson International Airport who is also an expert in terrorism and national security, said that this hijacking could have happened anywhere. He raises the question of airport security personnel being armed, being sufficiently trained to deal with this type of situation, as well the distance between the security check and the aircraft, where ideally there would be enough time and distance to intercept someone before they had the opportunity to approach a waiting plane.

Approximately 1,600 Canadian travelers were recently stranded when Conquest Vacations suddenly went out of business on April 15, 2009, citing the current economic downturn for their business failure. Other reasons that they stated for their now defunct operations includes price wars with other major tour operators, overcapacity and unrealistic and unreasonable demands by credit cards companies. When Conquest suddenly and unexpectedly (at least to Canadian consumers) shut their doors, they claimed that current vacationers would not be affected; however that statement has proved to be false. Canadians who were on vacations that had been booked through Conquest were suddenly faced with demands for their hotel payments, which they had already paid through their booking. Some Canadians who were stranded in Mexico reported that hotel security demanded payment immediately; if not paid they threatened to call Mexican police. Some were suddenly locked out of their hotel rooms until payment was made; there is a report stating that one traveler was denied their medication that was in their hotel room, and became quite ill as a result of this delay. As well, some vacationers who assumed they had a paid airline ticket back to Canada were faced with the realization that this was possibly no longer the case. With banks being closed on the weekend, some travelers had difficulties getting money wired to them in order to fulfill these unexpected financial demands. The hotels were demanding payment that Conquest had not honored, and had not informed anyone who had booked through them that this was a possibility.

Because Conquest has shut down business as opposed to filing for bankruptcy, Canadians who have booked through them and have paid in full will have to wait up to 6 weeks to get a refund on their credit card, as there is an investigation pending. For those who have already booked vacation time from work and booked their vacation, and do not have the financial resources to pay again while waiting for their refund, this effectively means that they're out of luck. All future bookings made through Conquest will not be honored; these vacations need to be rebooked through another tour operator. They will have to seek refunds through their travel agent, credit card company, and/or through Conquest itself.

There has been a lot of criticism regarding the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) and their responsibility regarding whether or not they adequately protected consumers. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty says that the government owes it to Canadian travelers to examine whether or not TICO should warn the public when a tour operator is in financial difficulty. However TICO responds to this suggestion by saying that by warning the public of possible financial distress, tour operators could find themselves failing due to the publicity. Currently, there are no rules in place in order to prevent this situation happening again.

For Canadians who are planning a vacation abroad, it appears that the responsibility regarding this issue lies with the traveler. Although provincial travel watchdog agencies are trying to help stranded tourists, and are offering to refund their out-of-pocket expenses, this still does not totally alleviate the problems that these travelers faced. And with the economy still in a downturn, this could potentially happen again if other operators suddenly close their doors without any warning.

All inclusive travel insurance does offer some protection for stranded travelers. Depending on the plan, it can cover costs that are non-refundable when it comes to the sudden disruption of all inclusive trips, as well as covering unexpected medical costs. Canadians who are planning to leave the country for a vacation should be aware of what their travel insurance coverage includes, and adjust this if necessary. Every trip is different, depending on the destination country, tour operator, etc. It is highly recommended that all Canadians research and understand what their travel insurance covers. While all inclusive coverage may not be necessary for every trip, it may be a wise choice for some locations, as well as the type of trip planned.  For more information regarding the different types of travel coverage that are available, please visit our Travel Insurance page.

posted on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 5:40:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Tuesday, July 15, 2008
                 

Summer can be an ideal time to take part and/or all of your accrued vacation days from work, especially for those who wish to have a family holiday. Taking time off from your work environment is essential in order to maintain mental and physical health. This time is also valuable in terms of maintaining your relationships with your family and friends. Not taking time off from work often leads to higher levels of stress, which negatively impact health. For those who already have health issues such as cardiovascular problems, acute stress can be quite dangerous.

A study which started in 1948 had women filling out questionnaires over a 20 year period that tracked their vacation time, as well as health status. Back then the study showed that women who took a vacation only once every 6 years were almost 8 times more likely to develop health issues such as coronary disease and/or heart attacks than those women who took a minimum of 2 vacations a year. The published study in 1992 also factored in health issues such as obesity, diabetes, smoking and the amount of income; once again those at a higher risk level were those that did not take regular vacation time.

Another study was conducted in 2000 which studied 12,000 men who were considered high risk for coronary disease over a 9 year period. The results showed that those men who did not take a yearly vacation had a 21% higher risk of death from all causes and 32% more likely to have a fatal heart attack.

A study has shown that 23% of Canadians have canceled and/or postponed their vacation plans due to their obligations at work. Canadians also "give back" an average of 3 days of their vacation time that though they are entitled to, do not take due to work. This is in part due to the fact that most Canadians are conditioned to value employment productivity sometimes more than their work-life balance. To maintain work-life balance, it's also important not only to take your vacation days, but to take them properly. 42% of Canadians seem to use all their time at once, taking a 2-3 week vacation from work, while the rest seem use their days here and there. Taking 2 weeks off seems to be the ideal amount of time; it allows the body and mind the chance to properly unwind and become rejuvenated. However, breaking up your vacation time into a series of long weekends does not seem to give you enough

Every company will have their own policies regarding when to submit your vacation days in order to get them approved. This does require sometimes making plans a few (or more) months in advance. You will need to be proactive as your vacation time approaches, in order to let all the other staff know exactly when you are leaving, and for how long. If someone is temporarily filling in for you, you should make sure they are aware of what their responsibilities will be, and what realistically you expect them to accomplish. Due to this advance planning, you may find that when your vacation finally comes, you are swamped with work, i.e. in the middle of a project. This may require you to be in contact with your office while you are on vacation. If this is happening to you, designate with your office a certain time of day that you will be available to them. Try and deal with your work within that window of time, so you can actually relax and enjoy your vacation the rest of the time. Make sure that all people involved are aware of this schedule, as well as that your cell phone/blackberry/laptop etc will be turned off until the next appointed time.

Remember that by not taking time off you are reducing your productivity as well as optimum health status. Whether jetting out of the country, or simply staying home, all Canadians need to take time to unwind and relax in order to be at their peak performance for work.

posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 5:33:20 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Monday, May 26, 2008
                 

With summer soon approaching, many Canadians are planning their summer vacation. For those who plan on leaving Canada, attention should be paid to not only what vaccinations are mandatory, but which ones are recommended. It is important to remember that not all countries face the same potential outbreaks; for every visit outside of Canada you should consult with your physician as well as reputable travel advisories in order to be informed of any potential health risks.

Certain diseases are far more common in developing countries than in Canada, however as Canadians are usually immunized early in childhood, there is very little risk of becoming infected. Check your childhood immunization chart to make sure you have been vaccinated for diseases such as rubella, tetanus, polio, and diphtheria. While outbreaks of these have not been prevalent in Canada for a long time, epidemics do occur in other countries. If you are traveling with young children, consult with their pediatrician about the status of their vaccinations, as well as any health risks concerning the area of travel.

The most common diseases that you can be vaccinated for and are at risk of acquiring are:

• Hepatitis A and B: Can be caught from "unclean" water, including fruits and vegetables that are washed in this water and ice cubes and is also transmitted by sexual contact. There is a combined vaccine that provides lifetime protection against both Hepatitis A and B consisting of three doses given over a 21 day period.
• Influenza: The flu vaccine in Canada is based on projections of what type of flu will be prevalent for the season. While this is usually consistent with flu outbreaks around the world, it does vary. Timing as well is a factor, as the flu season in the Northern Hemisphere occurs in wintertime; the Southern Hemisphere has their projected flu season during the summer, and flu season typically lasts all year round at the equator. As well, due to the recycled air on airplanes, the risk of catching infectious diseases is quite high.
• Typhoid: Be advised that the vaccination for typhoid only lasts for 3-4 years, and typically only provides 70% protection. Anyone traveling to a country with under-developed water treatment systems and/or sanitation systems should be vaccinated. New Canadians who are traveling back to their homeland are at the highest risk of becoming ill with typhoid.
• Yellow Fever: One of the only vaccinations that is required by health officials to cross international borders. 21 countries in Central Africa as well as South America require a yellow fever vaccination certificate for all entries; 102 countries demand this certificate from anyone who has been in the "yellow fever zones". There is a high mortality rate among people who become infected with yellow fever. The current vaccine only lasts for 10 years, so it is important to keep your immunization records, and be aware of when you need to be vaccinated again.
• Meningococcal (bacterial) meningitis: This is recommended for anyone traveling throughout sub-Saharan Africa, especially if you plan on living closely among the local population. This is a very dangerous disease and is highly contagious; it is passed between people through coughing and/or sneezing. This vaccination is now required for anyone going to Saudia Arabia to participate in the Hajj. As your risk of infection is lower when staying in a quality hotel, you may not need this vaccination. It is a wise idea to consult with a travel health professional in order to determine your individual risk.
• Japanese encephalitis: Is transmitted through mosquito bites, as is malaria and yellow fever. This is prevalent mostly in rural areas of South and Southeast Asia and can be fatal, as well as causing severe neurological damage. It is mostly contracted in the summer months by an evening-biting mosquito and the symptoms are similar to those of meningitis. The vaccine offers protection for 2-3 years; be aware that there have been allergic reactions associated to this vaccine. It is highly recommended for those who plan on spending more than a month in areas that are affected with this disease.
• European tick-borne encephalitis: Has similar symptoms to the Japanese version, but often has more severe consequences. It is a viral infection carried by ticks, and is found in Russia, the former Soviet Union, as well as other parts of Europe, and is most prevalent in the summer months. Anyone planning to stay in these areas for a long period of time should be vaccinated; this vaccine does need to be ordered, so you must plan ahead. It is also important to follow procedures that reduce the risk of being bitten by ticks.
• Rabies: A fatal disease of the brain and nervous system that is transmitted through animal bites, especially dog bites. Rabies is common throughout the world, including North America. Although this vaccine is expensive, it is very safe and effective. For those who have been vaccinated and are bitten by an animal, 2 additional doses are required. However, for those who have not been vaccinated, 5 doses of vaccine and one of rabies immune globulin are required for effective treatment. The rabies immune globulin is not widely available in the developing world, which poses a huge health concern if bitten. It is important to know whether or not this is easily accessible in the country you plan on traveling in, as well, consult with a travel medical professional. This is usually recommended for long-stay travelers, especially those traveling with children.
• Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. There is however, three first-line antimalarial drugs that are recommended to help prevent becoming infected. These drugs should be taken for several weeks or even the day before potential exposure, as well as during the travel period, and for 1-4 weeks after returning. It is important to know that none of these drugs offer 100% protection, so it is important to take safety measures to prevent being bitten by virus-carrying mosquitoes. These include using insect repellants, as well as mosquito netting, screened accommodations, and wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts after dark.

You should consult with your physician as soon as possible when making your travel plans. This will allow you enough time for the slower vaccines to take effect. A 2 month time period is usually recommended to consult with your doctor. Your doctor will have the latest information on any outbreaks, as well as the latest vaccines that are available. As well, it is very important to tell your doctor that you have been abroad if you become ill within 2 months of returning to Canada, in case you have caught a foreign-based illness.

There are also websites that offer the latest information about these diseases globally. The Public Health Agency of Canada offers travelers advisories and/or warnings of any outbreaks throughout the world. This is an important tool when making your travel plans in order to decide if your destination is a safe one. Before booking your travel plans, make sure you have the latest information available about the country/region. Be aware that the health status of a country can and does change; make sure you read all travel advisories every time you plan on leaving Canada.

posted on Monday, May 26, 2008 3:13:54 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Monday, March 31, 2008
                 

Winter sports such as snowboarding or skiing are a great way to stay active during the colder months. It's important though, to make sure you are properly equipped in order to prevent serious injuries. While the number of snowboarding injuries does not surpass injuries incurred while skiing, they do tend to be more severe. The number of snowboarding injuries in Canada has risen drastically in the past ten years, with 88% of injuries being sustained by those between the ages of 10-19, with 80% of those being male. Half of those injuries were fractures, with over 40% being to the arms. While traumatic brain injuries, as well as spinal cord injuries are rare, they are on the rise, probably from the rising rend of acrobatic and high-speed moves.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that in 1997 over 84,000 skiing injuries and over 37,000 snowboarding injuries were treated in various American emergency rooms. Out of those injuries over 17,000 were head injuries. Their studies have found that 11 skiing and/or snowboarding deaths could be prevented each year and over 7,000 head injuries could be either prevented or reduced in severity simply by using helmets. Many of these accidents occur due to loss of control; either moving too fast on the slopes or being on a slope that is beyond the skiers/snowboarders ability. In 1999 a new report was released showing that helmet use could prevent or reduce the severity of 44% of head injuries incurred by adults, and 53% of those incurred by children under the age of 15.

It is estimated that 25% of all snowboarding injuries occur during a person's first experience, and almost 50% occur during the first season of snowboarding. This is due to the fact that snowboarding is an extreme sport that requires balance and a stable stance on the board. As both feet are fixed in non-release bindings, ankles are susceptible to being injured as the snowboarder cannot "step" out when falling or colliding. This also leaves the upper extremities at high risk of injury as a person's natural instinct is to outstretch their hands in order to break the impending fall. It is essential that anyone learning how to snowboard takes lessons in order to learn the fundamentals, including how to fall properly in order to avoid these injuries.

It is important to have the right equipment in order to either prevent injuries, as well as lessen the severity of any injuries that may occur. The snowboard you use should be in good condition and is fitted for your weight, size, and skill. Purchase a helmet that is specifically designed for snowboarding; helmets designed for other purposes such as bicycling, will not give you enough protection, as well as being too heavy or bulky which can result in whiplash injuries. Snowboarding helmets consist of three layers and are cut higher in the back than in the front. The outer shell varies depending on the model you choose, but is designed to protect against any objects penetrating the shell. The middle layer consists of polystyrene, which will absorb shock during a fall. The inner layer is simply designed for warmth, so that no other headgear will be required. If your helmet has sustained a major blow, you will need to replace it. Make sure the helmet fits snugly and is comfortable.

Snowboarding boots come in three different types; each differs in the support they give to the ankle and foot. Soft boots are the most common type of boot used and offers good stability as well as flexibility. Hard boots are typically worn by racers. Hybrid boots offer the support of the hard boot, but with the comfort and maneuverability of soft boots. It is important to select the proper type of boot for the style of snowboarding you are participating in. Ankle injuries are more prevalent in those who wear soft boots due to their moderate ankle support; people who wear the hard boots however, are more at risk of knee injuries due to the lack of movement. Make sure that you buy the boots and bindings together as these are inter-related.

Wrist and elbow guards are also important to reduce fractures. Wrist guards that are used for inline skating or skateboarding can also be used for snowboarding. Knee and tailbone pads are very important for beginners, as falling backwards is more apt to happen when learning to snowboard.

If you are traveling to Canada, or are a Canadian traveling outside the country to participate in snowboarding, it's important to make sure that your travel insurance will cover any injuries sustained in this activity. Certain travel insurance policies will not reimburse medical bills that are a result of these types of injuries; you may require Adventure Travel insurance. Make sure to check with your broker before you leave to make sure you have the right coverage.

posted on Monday, March 31, 2008 10:28:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
# Wednesday, May 9, 2007
                 

Immunization For Canadians

For most Canadians, vaccinations are something we receive as children, and then forget about. There’s a tendency to mistakenly assume that certain diseases are no longer a risk, as outbreaks rarely, if ever, have occurred in our lifetime. However, travelers can unknowingly bring these diseases into Canada when traveling to countries that have not yet eradicated these diseases. For those who have not been vaccinated, this means that they are at risk of becoming infected and becoming ill. Therefore, being current in your vaccination schedule is extremely important in order to maintain good health and to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Immunization is not just for infants and children. Adults need to be aware of their current immunization status, as maintenance vaccinations are required for certain illnesses. People in certain occupations, such as health care, child care workers, etc. are at a higher risk of exposure. For adults traveling to foreign countries, they need to be aware of any required vaccinations as well as any current outbreaks of communicable diseases. For the elderly, being immunized against such illnesses as influenza and pneumonia are essential as these diseases can be fatal for those whose immune systems may be compromised.

It is important for Canadians to realize that many countries do not benefit from the high level of quality medical care that we take for granted. Certain diseases, such as cholera and typhoid are still a serious health concern in other parts of the world. Without being vaccinated for these diseases, travelers risk being exposed and contracting these diseases. Diseases such as Hepatitis A can be contracted through contaminated water and/or unsafe food handling. Countries that do not have adequate sanitation and clean water are especially high risk for Hepatitis A. As well, some countries may require proof of vaccinations before you are allowed entry.

When making your travel plans, it is important to research whether or not you will need to get specific vaccinations, and how long in advance they need to be done. Some vaccinations require a series of shots that are spaced out over several months. Consult with your physician before finalizing any travel plans in order to ensure that you have enough time to be properly vaccinated. If you do not have a family physician, you can find a Travel Health Clinic that can provide you with the necessary information.

It is recommended that Canadians traveling outside of the country have travel insurance. An accident or unexpected illness can cost thousands of dollars in unexpected medical expenses. As well as covering hospital and doctor bills, travel insurance covers such expenses as medical transportation back to Canada, trip cancellation and/or interruption, and baggage loss. HealthQuotes.ca also offers coverage for group travel, as well as adventure travel. Discuss your travel plans with a qualified agent and find the coverage that suits your specific needs.

posted on Wednesday, May 9, 2007 6:34:41 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #   
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