Travelers Diarrhea  

  • Attacks range from 30-70% depending on area.
  • High risk areas: Asia, Middle East, Africa, Mexico and Central and South America.
  • Poor Hygiene in local restaurants is largest contributor.
  • You can prevent by washing hands, following drinking water precautions and making smart food choices.
  • Usually lasts 3-5 days, though you may have repeat bouts with other contaminants

Make sure you have the appropriate information and medications to treat and prevent  travelers diarrhea.

What to do if you Become Sick of Injured

  • Have Diarrhea AND a fever above 102F
  • Have bloody Diarrhea
  • Are visiting a marlaria-risk country and develop flu-like illness or fever
  • Are bitten or scratched by an animal
  • Have been in a car accident
  • Have been seriously injured
  • Are Sexually assaulted

Medical Insurance

  • Unless you provide proof of equivalent or more-comprehensive health insurance to Student Financial Services, you will be required to purchase the Wellesley College health insurance as you do when you are on campus.
  • Students may be required, or have the option, to purchase additional insurance plans upon arrival overseas. These plans do not replace the required coverage through an American carrier.
  • It is essential that you review the benefits and claims procedures of your policy to ensure that your medical needs will be met at your particular destination (both where you will be based and where you might travel during your semester or year abroad).
  • You should also request a card or letter from the insurer with your policy information and the contact information for questions or claims.
  • If you have any medical or mental health issues that will need treatment or follow-up during your semester abroad, please contact the Wellesley Director of International Study well in advance of your departure.

Supplemental Travel and Medical Assistance Insurance

All students who submit a leave of absence form for study abroad will be subscribed to a supplemental travel insurance policy through ACE International, providing 24-hour emergency medical, evacuation and repatriation assistance. You will receive a card from the Office of International Studies with the policy information and contact numbers to keep with you at all times during your travels abroad. For details of this policy, you may refer to the handout, which is distributed along with your card.

Services will review the information on the form and make site-specific recommendations for immunizations and health precautions that students may access through their own Primary Care Physician, a Travel Clinic or Wellesley Health Services.

HIV Antibody Testing

Some countries require you to take an HIV test prior to arrival. Check the CDC web site ( before you depart. You will be turned away at the airport if you do not have the proper documentation proving you have had an HIV test.

Foreign Medical Practices

Be aware that the manner in which medical help is obtained, the way patients are treated, the conditions of overseas medical facilities, and how health care is afforded may be quite different from US practices. U.S. health care values, assumptions, and methods are not universally practiced, and even notions regarding illness onset or the timing of expert attention may be culturally based.


Students with Chronic Illness

  • If you have a physical or psychological condition that requires ongoing treatment or surveillance by a doctor, you should consult with your physician about the prospect of studying abroad. For example, if you are on medication, discuss the type of care you may need abroad and the best way to continue your regimen.
  • Seriously consider the consequences of stress from cultural adjustment and relying on different medical practices. Any physical and emotional health issues you have will follow you wherever you travel. New circumstances can even exacerbate existing issues into crises while you're away from home.
  • You are encouraged to discuss any of these matters with your program provider, the Director of International Studies or a member of the University Counseling department. All information will be kept confidential.


HIV/AIDS remains a serious health threat to millions of people worldwide. Rates of infection in some areas of the world are skyrocketing. HIV is a severe public health issue in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, China, and Southeast Asia. HIV still remains a serious risk worldwide, including Western Europe, Australia, and the Americas. Be informed of the HIV/AIDS situation where you will be going.

  • HIV is spreading rampantly in many regions due to IV drug use and prostitution. Studies indicate that nearly 100% of sex workers in certain areas are HIV positive.
  • ALL travelers should protect themselves when engaging in sexual activity. Latex condoms (used with water-based lubricant) are the most effective form of protection should you be sexually active. WOMEN are at the greatest risk, but these precautions apply to hepatitis and other STDs, which are prevalent worldwide.
  • Sterilization and hygiene practices in some developing nations are not adequate. If you are in a developing area and need to seek medical treatment, ask for a ‘western’ doctor and be cautious about any use of needles.
  • If possible, delay any blood transfusions until you arrive in the U.S. or at a medical establishment.


A recent survey noted that 20 million Americans risk Hepatitis A infections when traveling to areas such as the Caribbean, Mexico, Africa, Central and South America, and Asia. Ask your doctor about getting Immune Globulin injections to help protect you from this disease.


Malaria is one of the most frequent problems faced by travelers to the tropics and sub-tropics. The mosquito-borne infection is most common in Central and South America, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the South Pacific Islands. Four different forms of malaria have a variety of impacts from fever and chills, to vomiting and diarrhea. Untreated, serious infection can lead to death. Students traveling to the above regions should consult their physicians and the CDC website ( regarding preventative steps.

Health Conditions Abroad

Become aware of any public health service recommendations or advisories before you travel. For current health conditions abroad contact local officials, the country desk at the State Department 202.647.4000 or or the Centers for Disease Control 404.639.3311 or The US State Department’s Overseas Citizens Emergency Center 202.647.5225 is also a good source for obtaining information on medical problems while abroad.