Shot in the arm for travel

The travel clinic team (from left to right) includes Alejandra Casas, Dr. Tanya Pharess, Shawna Planeta and Jill McQuaid.

The travel clinic team (from left to right) includes Alejandra Casas, Dr. Tanya Pharess, Shawna Planeta and Jill McQuaid.

Passport: check. Itinerary: check. Luggage: check.

You may feel ready for your international trip, but if you’re traveling to Africa, Asia or Central or South America, you might have forgotten something critical — your health.

“Travel medicine is a relatively new and exciting field of medicine,” said Dr. Tanya Phares, medical director at the new Bohème Travel Clinic. She opened the business two months ago on Caughlin Crossing.

“We have responded to a need here in Reno for a comprehensive clinic where travelers can get all of the necessary CDC-recommended vaccines, but also prescriptions, medications and supplies to stay safe overseas,” she said.

Dangerous diseases, such as yellow fever, typhoid, malaria, rabies or Japanese encephalitis are common in many tourist havens around the world. But international travel doesn’t mean compromising your health.

Many of these diseases were long eradicated in North America and Europe so most Americans haven’t received vaccinations for diseases that could end up laying them low in a hotel sickbed or hospital when they should be having the time of their lives.

“Around 85 percent of international travelers to at-risk areas travel unvaccinated,” said Dr. Phares, who is board certified in internal medicine, preventive medicine and holds a certificate in travel medicine from the International Society of Travel Medicine.

The World Health Organization estimates that only 34 percent of Americans visiting areas high in hepatitis A get immunized. Only 8 percent of international travelers to malaria-prone countries take pills to prevent it. As many as 30,000 travelers come down with malaria each year.

“We hope to make the local community more aware and better prepared,” said Dr. Phares, who works with a staff of three.

While other health providers in the area can offer the same kinds of vaccinations, Denis Phares, an engineer who also is helping his wife launch the business, said Bohème is the only stand-alone clinic in northern Nevada that has a dedicated travel physician on staff.

Both husband and wife have also traveled extensively. The name of the business is French for bohemian, “evoking a nomadic lifestyle, a traveler,” said Denis.

For those who would prefer to risk it because they might be deterred by the costs, which are out-of-pocket, Denis said anyone who is spending thousands of dollars for a cruise, safari or hiking in the jungle might consider the cost an ounce of prevention to ensure smooth sailing.

Most trips overseas are not budget travel, said Denis. So spending $350 for shots when you’ve dropped $10,000 for a safari might seem like chump change.

An initial consult costs $55 in which a member of the staff will conduct a medical history and gather information about the places a person is traveling to. Depending on the destination, the prescribed vaccinations — which must be administered four to six weeks before a trip — are in the $200 to $200 plus range, he added.

Travel health services are unique because insurance rarely picks up the tab. Instead patients will be billed at the time of service, said Denis.

The couple envision a classy, customer-service centered office which will cater to business and leisure travelers and volunteer groups.

Learn more about travel medicine and Bohème Travel Clinic at www.bohemeclinic.


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