An SCTI customer was bitten by a rattlesnake during a camping trip in Wyoming in the US, and required immediate hospitalisation and administration of anti-venom.
“It was quite expensive, but vital” recalls Craig Morrison, SCTI CEO. “Rattlesnake anti-venom costs around $20,000 a vial, and the typical starting dose for a bite is 4-6 vials.” Happily, the Kiwi traveller made a full recovery and needed only one day in hospital.
Scorpions hiding in clothing have also caused grief for several SCTI travellers. One customer in Peru suffered multiple stings after an arachnid had crawled into their trousers during the night. Another traveller was stung five times in their groin, leg and arm by a scorpion hiding in their clothes while they were holidaying in Nepal. It required an immediate helicopter evacuation to the nearest hospital for treatment.
Even quick trips across the ditch to Australia can result in emergency assistance being required. Recently we helped a New Zealand woman who needed to be hospitalised with a foot ulcer and cellulitis due to a spider bite. This also required an upgrade to business class in order to have her foot elevated during the flight home.
While events such as these are rare, they do happen, and Morrison recommends travellers spend a little time researching their chosen destination – including health requirements and precautions.
An SCTI survey of New Zealand travellers found that while 71% use the internet to do some research on their destination, it tends to be finding out about tourist attractions, shopping and currency.
“New Zealand is blessed in that it has no poisonous snakes or scorpions. The only two venomous insects are non-aggressive spiders – so it’s not really something Kiwis think about before they travel.”
Reassuringly, the most frequent complaint from travellers about creepy crawlies is bug bites. Morrison says it’s a good idea to pack antihistamines, even if you’ve never had an allergic reaction before.
Tips for keeping the bugs away and packing medications:
Take an insect repellent containing DEET (30%-50%) or picaridin (up to 15%)
Always shake out shoes and clothing before putting them on.
Make a list of your medications and what conditions they treat. Include generic and brand names in case you need to buy more overseas – your pharmacist can help with this.
Prescription medicines should be packed in carry-on luggage and in their original bottles if possible.
Leave a copy of your prescriptions at home with a friend or relative, or send it to your personal email account so you can recall it if needed.