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Forest Hills doctor doles out medical tips to travelers

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Although Dr. Karl Neumann, a pediatrician by trade, has been practicing travel health for 20 years, only over the last year has his practice begun to publicize its expertise. The clinic at 108-48 70th Rd. specializes in preparing patients for trips abroad with vaccinations and treating their ailments when they return to the United States.

In addition, the clinic provides advice for those traveling abroad. The Travel Health Center also boasts a doctor on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

There are three types of people who need the services of the Travel Health Center, Neumann said in a interview Friday at his office. People who go to exotic locales may need immunization, prophylactics and advice. Others who make use of the clinic include those who have ongoing diseases, such as diabetes, which could be affected by being away from home, as well as travelers who return from overseas with conditions their physicians cannot really diagnose.

"The most common disease that people get while traveling is traveler's diarrhea," Neumann said. "We give advice on how to prevent it."

Neumann recommends not consuming tap water or ice to avoid stomach illness while in foreign countries.

Others in need of the travel health clinic's services are parents who go overseas to adopt children. Not only should the parents be immunized before going, but the children should be immunized upon reaching America.

In 1974 Neumann began to integrate travel medicine into his practice, offering advice and vaccinations to patients. Neumann, whose second love is writing, decided to combine his two passions and pursue travel writing. In August 1975 he wrote an article on Baden, Germany that was published in The New York Times.

And for 10 years he also wrote a newspaper column on travel health. Neumann penned his column for publications such as Newsday, the Los Angles Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and many others.

In 1987 Neumann established the Traveling Healthy Newsletter. It had a circulation of 2,000 subscribers, with half of the readership Fortune 500 companies, he said. The publication offered practical advice to would-be travelers. Suggestions on what water to drink and how to deal with gastrointestinal diseases were dealt with in past newsletters.

The Traveling Healthy Newsletter went out of print in 2002.

"The reason we really stopped it is the Web," Neumann said. "What I had to research carefully is now available on the Web."

Neumann, who is on the International Society of Travel Medicine's board of directors, writes the society's newsletter and serves as Web master.

"I would say I'm one of the founders of this field," he said.

Reach reporter Tommy Hallissey by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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