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It's important for doctors to give their patients good information on health problems they might encounter while on the road, Dr. H. James Brownlee told physicians at a national meeting in Greensboro Thursday.

Brownlee, director of family residency at the Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., spoke at the 42nd Annual Scientific Assembly on infectious disease, immunization, stomach and bowel problems, air travel and motion sickness.He also advised doctors where they can get updated travel-health information so they can warn their patients what precautions they should take relative to where they will be traveling.

People going abroad should get immunization shots for the diseases prominent in the country they will be visiting, he said. Tetanus is something that many people forget about or disregard, he said.

``Don't drink the water' is good advice for travelers, Brownlee said. In fact, people should do much more than just not drink it. They shouldn't brush their teeth with it, use ice cubes made from it or wash contact lenses in it, he said.

Brownlee said people susceptible to high altitude should be careful when flying because airplanes don't pressurize completely. When a plane is at 40,000 feet, the air pressure is equal to 8,000 feet above sea level. That could cause problems for someone with weak lungs, he said.

People who have been scuba diving should also not fly for 12 to 24 hours after their last dive, depending on the frequency of the dives. Brownlee said this could cause effects similar to the bends, a problem that divers have if they come up from a dive too fast.

Brownlee also said pregnant women should not get any vaccinations without consulting a physician and advised against flying in the last month of pregnancy.


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