The internet has supplied a partial answer for general practitioners looking for accurate information on travel health. However, advice needs to be tailored to the individual traveller and an appropriate plan should be agreed with each patient.
The differentiation of travel medicine as a specialty in the early 1980s brought with it a recognised need for access to authoritative up-to-date information. General practitioners were encouraged to simply telephone their local infectious disease unit for ‘dial-up’ information, and a registrar would pronounce what vaccines to give for the nominated destination. While some practitioners still attempt to follow this mythical cookbook approach to a very complex area, it is now well recognised that more than a phone call is required to meet both medicolegal requirements and the intending traveller’s needs. One of the many challenges of travel medicine is to supply information specific to the destination, taking into account current disease outbreaks, season and type of accommodation, and adapt this to the individual traveller’s needs.