Health and Safety
The best actions to take to protect yourself abroad are to be familiar with your environment and to be well-educated about your health and safety needs. While the information presented here is useful for general knowledge about health and safety abroad, you should also research the specifics for your host location. You should know about any health concerns in the place you are living, as well as keeping up to date on safety information. If you have any questions, please ask your study abroad provider or a study abroad adviser. This information will also be covered in our Pre-Departure Orientation Session and your on-site orientation.
Before You Leave
You should consult with the Centers for Disease Control's Travelers' Health website to see whether you need additional immunizations before studying abroad, or to learn about the health and safety situation in the region you're going to. You should also consult the U.S. State Department's Consular Information Sheet for your country and any countries you plan to visit, to determine what additional safety precautions you should take, or whether there are situations or parts of the country you should try to avoid. You can get more information about living abroad and also register yourself with the U.S. embassy in your host country.
When you apply to your study abroad program, let them know about any special needs you may have, whether they be physical/mobility impairments, learning disabilities, or questions about prescription medications. Study abroad providers are almost always able to make special arrangements for students, but it may take time, and it helps for them to know about these things in advance.
Your Health Abroad
You and your study abroad provider should be honest and well-informed about your health needs and expectations while studying abroad. We strongly encourage you to disclose any health concerns (including mental health concerns) to your study abroad provider, particularly if you will be taking prescription medication. Your study abroad provider can help you to find a healthcare practitioner in your host country in the event that you need to seek medical help and should be able to answer questions about therapy, prescriptions and disability arrangements that may need to be made.
Mental Health Abroad
It is normal to feel some mental and emotional stress while studying abroad. Usually the process of acclimating to a new culture can be represented the form of a U-curve, where students begin very excited and enthusiastic about studying abroad, experience some "lows" in the middle, and wind up happier once they've adapted to the situation and accepted their place in the foreign culture. Everyone's experience is different, though, and you may have more than one up-down curve while you're abroad. If at some point you feel that your stress levels are higher than normal or your "lows" are lower than they should be, please talk to your on-site study abroad director or to a study abroad adviser back home. They can help suggest mechanisms for handling this stress.
If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness before studying abroad, please disclose this to your study abroad provider and to your on-site study abroad director. They can help you with counseling, medication or any problems you may encounter during your time abroad.
Be sure to make arrangements for any prescription medication you are taking. There may be limitations on the kinds or amounts of medication you can bring into a country, and Customs may prevent you from having medication shipped to your host country. Check into these limitations before you leave, and consider instead having your prescription information transferred to a local pharmacy so that you can have your prescriptions filled on-site. Talk to your study abroad provider or a study abroad adviser if you have questions.
Certain over-the-counter medications (especially those containing pseudoephedrine) may be illegal in the country you're traveling to. Check with your study abroad program if you have questions about this.
Check with your insurance provider to be sure that you will be covered while abroad. Your parents' insurance plan or your study abroad provider may provide health insurance coverage while you are studying abroad. In the event that you need to seek additional international health insurance, please contact a study abroad adviser. Miami University has entered into an agreement with an insurance provider (HTH) for specialized study abroad insurance, which will cover your medical needs up-front in most cases. This may be more appropriate than what your regular insurance plan offers, so please consider this option. For more information on the insurance plan, please contact Lindsay Carpenter at (513) 529-8609 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Personal Safety Abroad
The Miami University Police have produced a list of their top ten Travel Tips for Students. Please familiarize yourself with this good advice!
Swine Flu Precautions
We encourage students, parents and other members of the Miami University community to educate themselves with facts on this issue, rather than depending on the speculation and hysteria that is prevalent in the media. To that end, we provide the following sources for information on swine flu:
The CDC's recommended precautions against swine flu include:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
- If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
The Office of International Education works mainly with third-party study abroad providers, who will make their own contingency plans for the spread of swine flu or the cancellation of programs. For the most up-to-date information on these programs, we recommend that you consult the posted information on their websites and/or contact the programs. We have provided contact information for some of the most popular providers here. Please contact us if you're unable to find contact information for the program you seek.
General Pandemic Flu Precaution
It is our intent to avoid operating any study abroad or travel program under conditions of significant risk to its participants from pandemic flu.
Miami University carefully monitors a number of authoritative sources relating to avian and pandemic flu, including websites provided by the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/), the WHO (http://www.who.int/en/), and the U. S. Government.
It is the responsibility of Miami University to cancel and return students to the U.S., or to reschedule or relocate study abroad programs as necessary to avoid significant risks of avian or pandemic flu. Please note that in signing the "Assumption of Risk and Release Form," study abroad participants accept that Miami University is not responsible for additional travel costs or expenses that may result from such necessary program changes required by an outbreak of avian and pandemic flu.
Also, please note, students who voluntarily or non-voluntarily leave a program before the ending date are not eligible for a refund of travel, program, or registration fees.
Please check back frequently to this site as information may change. It is important that participants of study abroad programs take responsibility for their own health, safety and financial liability following the precautions listed below.
Precautions Before Travel:
- Purchase refundable or changeable airline tickets.
- Purchase "trip insurance" which would cover the cost of your ticket if YOU become ill (but not if you withdraw or MU cancels a program because of a possible threat of illness).
- Students with pulmonary disease or any respiratory illness should consult with a medical professional before making a final decision to participate.
- Students should consider having a seasonal influenza vaccination, which may reduce the possibility and risk of dual (seasonal flu and H5N1) viral infections.
- Participants should consult with a health care provider to determine if taking a supply of antiviral medications (Oseltamivir ("Tamiflu") or other) is appropriate for a flu outbreak.
- Avoid live animal markets and poultry and pig farms.
- Do not handle sick or dead birds.
- Avoid and do not handle any sick animals, including cats and swine.
- Avoid touching any surfaces that may be contaminated by poultry droppings, and do not swim in any body of water that is used by birds.
- Always maintain high levels of personal hygiene. Frequent hand washing is very important. Wash hands before and after food preparation.
- The virus has been detected in processed poultry (frozen duck meat). The influenza virus is destroyed by heat. Poultry and poultry products that will be consumed, including eggs, must be thoroughly cooked. The inner temperature of meat must reach 70° C/158° F. Wash eggs before use, and then wash your hands. Cook pork products before eating.
- Take your temperature regularly. If there is an avian flu outbreak at your location, begin taking your own temperature five (5) times daily.
- If you travel to an area affected by avian flu, be aware of your health. Monitor any symptoms that may occur while there and for 10 days after leaving an outbreak location. If you develop a fever, cough, sore throat, breathing difficulty or any severe, unexplained illness within 10 days of your trip, seek medical attention. Call the nearest local health care facility before you visit. Tell the staff on the phone where you have traveled, your symptoms and any possible exposures to bird flu.
- Take a first aid kit and medical supplies, including an oral thermometer.
- Pack household disinfectant and alcohol-based wipes/ hand sanitizer.
- Take masks and disposable gloves and plastic storage bags.
- Monitor your health for 10 days.
- If you feel ill, before visiting your doctor or hospital, call to advise them of your symptoms, where you have been traveling, and if you had direct contact with poultry.
Adapted from statements and printed materials developed by the School for International Training, Study Abroad "Recommendations for Avian Flu Precautions," Seattle University's "Statement on Avian & Human Influenza Virus Pandemic," and the Target Corporation.