Photography and Wilderness Medicine: Flu shots

Some of you know that the other hat I wear is in Wilderness Medicine. With 20+ years of ER experience and even longer experience traipsing around in the wilderness, this seems very natural. So how does Wilderness Medicine go along with photography? Well, Wilderness Medicine providers (physicians, PAs, NPs, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists) have learned much about travel and wilderness activities and the injuries and illnesses that go along with them. Nature, Adventure and Travel photography are all associated with risk of illness and injury during our time out in the field and out of the country. So, to help those of my colleagues who are not in Wilderness Medicine (all of my photography friends and associates), I decided that I will write occasionally about something in wilderness medicine that would benefit them in staying safe and healthy.

So why pick FLU SHOTS as my first topic. I have taken flu shots most of my life (even when I was young and my dad had to drag me from hiding underneath the bed to get my shot). Most health care workers get the shot because we are exposed repeatedly to patients with the flu. But what about people who don’t work in the health care field. My wife doesn’t ever get the flu shot and I respect her decision. At least, until I heard a lecture on Fevers in Returning Travelers from the Wilderness Medical Society. The lecturer, an Infectious Disease physician, was talking about the flu vaccine and travel. He suggested everyone travelling during the winter be vaccinated. You know, close quarters in the airplane, people sniffling and sneezing and coughing. I thought that is was a good idea until he made his point. A study from Germany where they sampled (probably nose or throat swab) everyone coming off a plane from another country showed 15 % had flu and 15 % had Para flu (also causes flu type symptoms). Wow. So when you’re travelling during the flu season, from the statistics in this study, you would have a 1 in 3 chance of sitting next to someone with the flu. Now I think a flu shot is a “must have” for anyone travelling out of the country during the wintertime.

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