By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: My son and a few of his friends are considering a trip to Central America this winter. I'm a concerned mom who wants to ensure he'll have a healthy trip but of course I don't want to be pushy when it comes to what he needs to take. Where can I read up on tropical diseases?

A: Always top of mind when it comes to travel of any kind is the topic of health. One of the best sources for tropical diseases when traveling abroad is the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT). Anyone can become a member by simply registering. The non-profit organization is free but donations are welcomed. Members receive The IAMAT directory, a must-have resource for anyone travelling to foreign tropical destinations along with other benefits.

The directory lists physicians, specialists, hospitals and clinics in over 125 countries. According to IAMAT, the physician's credentials have been reviewed in light of IAMAT standards. In addition, IAMAT reports it continuously inspects clinics, hospitals and physician's offices around the world.

Need more info? Visit their web site at or send inquiries to If you'd like to become a member, they have an online membership form. Residents in the Toronto area can contact the IAMAT's Toronto office at 1287 St. Clair Avenue West, Suite 1, Toronto, M6E 1B8 or by phone at 416-652-0137.

Whenever I travel to foreign destinations, I drink bottled water and even use bottled water for brushing teeth. This is to avoid contracting possible parasites and bacteria or Hepatitis A.

When having a cold drink in unfamiliar establishments, consider passing on ice cubes as well. If there's a buffet, remember meats and dairy products spoil easily if left out in warm temperatures for long periods. On trips where the body needs to regain itself from jet lag, it's a good idea to start off slow as the biological clock is still readjusting.


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