Wilderness Medical Society
Overview of Travel Medicine and the Travel Medicine Clinic
William W. Forgey, M.D.
Associate Clinical Professor of Family Medicine
Indiana University School of Medicine
Director, International Association of Medical Assistance for Travelers (IAMAT)
Access various organizations and web sites where travelers and clinicians may
find travel related health information.
Describe the general organization and special considerations of managing a
Travel Medicine Clinic.
List the most serious health related threats to the wilderness or exotic traveler.
Summarize general health maintenance recommendations given to travelers.
The mission of a travel medicine clinic is to assess travel risk and provide appropriate
information and prophylaxis to the traveler. Travel risk is dependent upon the destination,
length of time there, activities while there, and the health of the traveler. Destination risk
includes exposure to infectious disease and may be environmental or political in nature.
Travel Risk Assessment
Even with the internet at our disposal, obtaining information concerning current country-
specific risk is a challenge. The best official governmental website sources of information
concerning political unrest or various physical dangers are listed below by country of
The United States Department of State lists several levels of advice, namely travel
warning or public announcements. Their website describes this information as follows:
Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department decides, based on all relevant information, to
recommend that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Countries where avoidance of travel is
recommended will have Travel Warnings as well as Consular Information Sheets.
Public Announcements are a means to disseminate information about terrorist threats and other relatively
short-term and/or trans-national conditions posing significant risks to the security of American travelers.
They are made any time there is a perceived threat and usually have Americans as a particular target group.