Safeguard Your Next Business Trip from Health Threats

Dr. Gary BrunetteWhen people learn that I lead CDC’s Travelers’ Health Branch, they often ask for my advice on how to be safe and smart when they travel. Business travelers are especially interested in CDC’s recommendations about how to stay healthy when they’re conducting business overseas—often working thousands of miles away from home and their physicians. Juggling tight deadlines and packed schedules means that business travelers can often least afford to get sick while traveling. But only 10 percent of international business travelers get pre-travel health care.

Over the years, our branch has been involved in responses to many high profile events that highlight the importance of travel health. A swift response to the SARS epidemic in 2003 helped to limit the impact and spread of the disease; since 2004, there have not been any known cases of SARS reported anywhere in the world. The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic showed us how quickly illnesses can spread worldwide in an age of easy global travel. Natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake of 2010 and the Japanese tsunami in 2011 proved that the global landscape can change in an instant, requiring quick action and adaptability. In this year alone, a number of infectious disease outbreaks have proven how essential it is to prepare for healthy travel. Measles outbreaks in the United States are at a 20-year high this year, and almost all measles cases have been associated with unvaccinated travelers. The first cases of MERS virus in the United States occurred in two travelers from the Arabian Peninsula. Mosquito-borne chikungunya virus continues to spread rapidly in the Caribbean, and a number of imported cases have been reported in the United States. Simple steps during a pre-travel health consultation, such as vaccination and traveler education, can help to mitigate the impact of these and other illnesses or injuries to business travelers and their employers.

Travelers HealthCDC helps businesses safeguard travelers against infectious diseases, injury, road hazards and environmental concerns that can sideline personal health and business productivity on a trip. To learn what CDC is doing to help protect business travelers and employers, visit the CDC Foundation’s new Business Pulse, view an interactive infographic, and read a Question and Answer feature between me and Dr. Lori Zimmerman, corporate medical director for Citi, a bank that does business in more than 160 countries.

With the globalization of travel and trade, outbreaks that start in remote corners of the world can travel as quickly as a plane can fly. CDC encourages all travelers, including the millions of Americans who travel for business, to take full advantage of CDC’s many resources that help ensure safe, healthy travel. 


Captain Gary Brunette, MD, MS, is branch chief of CDC Travelers’ Health and editor-in-chief of CDC Health Information for International Travel.