Travel Blog

July 5, 2021:

Entering Canada just got a whole lot simpler… here’s how:

As of today, travelers who are fully vaccinated (having two shots of either Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or COVISHIELD Verity/Serum Institute of India (SII) (COVISHIELD) no longer need to go through the mandatory quarantine process upon arrival.  

This is encouraging news. That said, pre and on-arrival testing is still necessary. In addition, it is important to have a quarantine ‘plan’ in place, in the case one does not meet the entrance criteria at the border.

Those who are partially vaccinated will still have to go through the federally standard protocol

Reference:

https://www.mtlblog.com/en-ca/news/canadas-mandatory-quarantine-wont-be-required-for-the-fully-vaxxed

 

June 29, 2021:

How the COVID-19 pandemic has affected shopping for travel insurance, and what to look out for when you plan your next trip abroad

When planning for travel, ‘covering all the bases’ when it comes to insurance is crucialand even more so now that restrictions are starting to lift since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s what you need to pay attention to: 

Coverage for COVID-19 related health emergencies, cancellations, or further scheduling adjustments.

Know ahead of time if your provider will allow this type of coverage.  It’s also important to understand that with frequent changes throughout the pandemic, providers cannot take on too much risk in establishing maximum payout amounts for COVID-19 related incidents.  That said, one factor within the traveler’s control is to be fully vaccinated. 

This may leave you with the question: what is the best insurance provider for Canadians today? 

The truth is, not only does every traveler’s dream trip look different, but so do their coverage needs… and shopping for the right provider can be overwhelming.  

To help your search, Skyscanner Canada has compiled a comprehensive summary of coverage based on the provider. Take a look here

They also list all the questions you should be asking yourself before you make your decision.  From whether you’re a snowbird, seeking adventure, have pre-existing medical conditions, and right down to what type of luggage you’re bringing. 

Like we said, everyone’s priorities may differ when it comes to that ‘dream trip’… but the need to ensure your safety is universal.  

*Disclaimer: Destinations Travel Clinic does not provide insurance advise, and we highly recommend consulting your coverage needs with an expert.

References: 

https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/travellers-need-to-pay-close-attention-when-shopping-for-travel-insurance-experts-1.5489688

https://www.skyscanner.ca/tips-and-inspiration/travel-insurance-canada

June 13, 2021:

Lyme Disease: overview, signs and symptoms, prevention, treatment 

Lyme disease is a common vector-borne disease (meaning transmitted from the bite of an infected animal or insect to a human).  Specifically in the Ottawa area, blacklegged/deer ticks carrying a bacteria known as borrelia burgdorferi are commonly found in heavily wooded/grassy areas— and most often during warmer months, between April-September. 

Beginning signs of a tick bite can look like a small red bump similar to a mosquito bite, and is not necessarily indicative of Lyme disease.  However, within 30 days, symptoms of infection may arise.  These include rash expansion while leaving a central clearing at the site of the bite, fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, neck stiffness, and swollen lymph nodes. 

If left untreated, symptoms of Lyme disease can accelerate once entered into the bloodstream, affecting joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Most importantly, prevention is key for protecting yourself from infection.  Basic protocols include but are not limited to: wearing long sleeved, light coloured clothing to visibly identify ticks, walking on cleared paths and walkways, and doing routine full body checks on yourself, your outdoor gear, your children, and/or pets after spending time in at risk areas.  Proper bug repellant containing DEET for your skin, clothing, and gear is important as well.

Centrum Pharmacy offers highly effective products viewed in the images to your right:  Ben’s Bug Spray, Ben’s Wipes 

Creating your own “tick-free” zone through landscape maintenance at home is another way to stay protected.  This could mean keeping your lawn mowed, keeping recreation items (children’s play equipment, backyard seating) away from the edges of brush/wooded areas and preferably in the sun, and/or keeping wood stacked in a dry area to prevent potential infestation of rodents ticks feed on. 

Although there are endless means of prevention, accidents still happen

This brings us to the question of: what to do if you are bitten/infected by a tick?

Firstly, don’t panic. If you notice a tick bite, it is important to safely remove it as soon as possible.  Doing so within 24-36 hours will reduce chances of infection. You may use sanitized fine-tipped tweezers to detach the tick by getting as close to the skin as possible, and by extracting with upward steady and even pressure.  It is important not to twist the tick as you pull, as this result in the detachment of the tick’s mouth parts under the skin barrier. 

Once the tick is removed, clean the site of the bite and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water. For safe disposal, either place the tick in rubbing alcohol, an airtight sealed bag, fold it up in tape, or flush it down the toilet. Do not crush the tick with your fingers.

Now… What about follow-up care?

It is important whether or not you remove the tick safely and promptly to inform your doctor, and to note when the bite occurred— as oftentimes, symptoms can arise over the course of several weeks post-bite.  Your MD will also be able to ensure complete removal of the tick, along with accurate documentation in case of future symptoms of post Lyme disease.  

The presence of borrelia burgdorferi in Ottawa is currently high enough for public health to recommend post-exposure prophylaxis, a means of protective medications after a potential exposure to HIV, if the following criteria are met: 

  1. The tick is fully or partially engorged or has been attached for 24 or more hours
  2. It has been less than or equal to 72 hours since the tick has been removed  
  3. Doxycycline is not contraindicated (e.g., pregnancy, under 8 years old)

A 200 mg single dose of oral doxycycline, an antibiotic made to combat harmful bacteria in the body, may be offered to adults and children eight years and older.  If pregnant, one should discuss with your doctor to make an informed decision between the above mentioned single dose of doxycycline, or to forego, but closely monitor for signs of Lyme disease signs and symptoms.  As for children under eight, doxycycline is not typically recommended, and close monitoring for early signs of Lyme disease is advised. 

For all others who do not meet the earlier mentioned criteria for post-exposure prophylaxis, it is advised to closely monitor yourself for earliest signs and symptoms of Lyme disease for 30 days post-bite, such as lesion expansion or viral infection-life illness. 

Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS)

Although most cases of Lyme disease can be cured within 2-4 weeks of antibiotic treatment, in some cases, symptoms may continue for up to 6 months— this is known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.  

The reason for PTLDS is unknown, but a couple of expert hypotheses include the trigger of an autoimmune response causing these symptoms, or possibly due to Lyme disease being a persistent and sometimes difficult to detect infection.  At this point in time, there is no proven long-term treatment for PTLDS— and long term antibiotic use can in turn cause serious health complications.

If you are experiencing PTLDS, it will usually get better over time, but it can sometimes take months to get back to feeling completely well again.  It is important to address your symptoms with your doctor in order to receive best recommendations for managing these symptoms.

View Ottawa Algorithm for Lyme Disease here.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20374651
https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html 
https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/professionals-and-partners/resources/Documents/Ottawa-Algorithm-for-Lyme-Disease_July2019.pdf
https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html 
https://www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/professionals-and-partners/resources/Documents/memo-lyme-2017-04-12_en.pdfhttps://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html 
Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome | Lyme Disease | CD

May 21, 2021:

Malaria vaccine from Oxford covid-19 team is most effective ever made

A Malaria vaccine prototype has shown 77 per cent effectiveness in trials. This is a monumental moment in vaccine development history, and one that meets the World Health Organization (WHO) target pf 75 per cent efficacy by 2030— nearly a decade in advance.

Adrian Hill, University of Oxford vaccinologist, hopes to have the new vaccine approved within the next two years. After witnessing the rapid and advanced technology implemented to develop a COVID-19 vaccination, Hill feels the same urgency should be applied for the Malaria vaccine, stating the disease has killed “at least four times more people in Africa last year than COVID did.”

Hill and his colleagues have also worked on the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

This could an impactful development for public health.

For more details on clinical trials view the full article here:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2275573-malaria-vaccine-from-oxford-covid-19-team-is-most-effective-ever-made/