UKIC / International Health, Safety & Security / Prep / Traveler Health / Physical Health Abroad

Physical Health Abroad

Pre-Departure Preparation

If you have a chronic or pre-existing healthcare condition (e.g., diabetes, asthma, anemia, severe allergies, etc.), the International Center strongly recommends that you discuss a plan for your care abroad with your physician well in advance of your departure. 

Keep in mind that certain conditions you may encounter overseas, including things like altitude and air quality, can exacerbate existing conditions. Stress can also impact your physical health, and things like jet lag and culture shock can negatively impact your wellbeing. 

In addition to preparing for healthcare needs that you already manage in the U.S., traveling to certain destinations may require additional pre-departure vaccines or prophylactic medications. Please click here for more information on these considerations, and for resources on how to research healthcare conditions in the country you will be visiting. 

Food and Water Safety

In many countries, food preparation standards and water quality are similar to what we have in the U.S. However, safe eating and drinking habits are important when you travel internationally, especially to developing countries.  

The CDC provides resources and tips on avoiding foodborne illness and illnesses transmitted through contaminated water sources. Be sure to research your destination country before you leave, so that you are prepared to manage your food and drink choices when you arrive.  

UK students studying abroad who have dietary restrictions should discuss these with their Education Abroad advisor as part of the program selection process, to determine what accommodations are possible. 

Any traveler with food restrictions related to a medical condition should discuss their travel plans with their physician before departure. 

Insect Safety

According to the WHO, mosquitoes are one of the most dangerous animals on the planet. Insects are a significant vector for disease throughout the world, and learning how to protect yourself from bug bites is an important preparatory step in international travel, especially to tropical regions.  

The CDC's Traveler Health pages include resources on how to avoid bug bites, and their destination-specific information pages discuss any insect-borne diseases that may be present in the country that you are visiting. 

Vaccines and prophylactic medications are available for a number of insect-borne illnesses such as yellow fever and malaria, and you may wish to consider them before traveling. Visit this page for more information on these and other pre-departure healthcare considerations.

Routine (Non-Emergency) Medical Care Abroad

If you need to access routine medical care abroad, it is always best to contact AXA Assistance first. They can direct you to a provider in the area, and they can often set up a guarantee of payment before your visit, so that you do not have to pay out of pocket and file for reimbursement. You can get in touch with AXA by dialing their 24/7 call center at 1-312-935-3542. This number can be dialed collect. You can also e-mail them at medassist-usa@axa-assistance.us, however e-mail correspondence will be slower than calling directly. 

Be sure to have UK's policy number available when you contact AXA, so that you can reference it. UK employees will receive this information in an automated e-mail after registering their travel

If AXA is not able to set up a guarantee of payment before your visit and you are required to pay any expenses out of pocket, please keep all receipts and documentation that you receive. Information on filing claims for reimbursement can be found at this link

Some students on Education Abroad programs are covered by insurance through their Education Abroad partner organization instead of UK's policy with AXA. If you have questions about which policy applies to you, contact your Education Abroad advisor

Emergency Medical Care Abroad

In case of a medical emergency, seek care as soon as possible at the nearest appropriate medical facility. 

Once you are able, contact AXA Assistance at 1-312-935-3542 and be prepared to provide UK's policy number. This line is answered at all times, and it can be called collect. They will begin to monitor your case, and may be able to set up a guarantee of payment with your provider for expenses that you have incurred. UK will assist you in filing claims for any expenses you must pay out of pocket. 

If you urgently need to contact someone at the University, call the UK Police Department at 1-859-257-8573. Their line is staffed at all times, and they will route your call to the appropriate person on campus.  

Additional important contact information can be found here.