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1 March 2007 Mountain Sickness Knowledge Among Foreign Travelers in Cuzco, Peru
Andrew L. Merritt, Anne Camerlengo, Carinne Meyer, J. Dennis Mull
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Objective.—Cuzco, Peru, is host to a dangerous mix of high altitude and rapid access from low elevation, which results in a high prevalence of acute mountain sickness (AMS). Thus, it is important that travelers entering Cuzco understand the basics of AMS. To this end, we assessed travelers' awareness of AMS, especially the resources used to obtain this knowledge. With this information we make recommendations with regard to better avenues for distribution of AMS information.

Methods.—One hundred foreign travelers, representing an international population, completed a 45-item written questionnaire that was subsequently analyzed.

Results.—Over half of the respondents (51%) rated their knowledge of AMS as “low” or “none.” Furthermore, very few respondents knew about acetazolamide (Diamox) as prophylaxis for (9%) or treatment of AMS (5%). People who consulted physicians for AMS information were more likely to know about the utility of acetazolamide than those who depended on a guidebook (P = .0266) but were less likely to correctly identify the symptomatology of AMS (P = .047). While AMS knowledge was poor, the majority of travelers (90%) indicated compliance with recommended pretravel vaccinations.

Conclusions.—This survey adds to the body of knowledge that indicates a lack of AMS knowledge among travelers. In addition, this survey identifies 2 potential avenues for improved dispersal of information: 1) guidebooks for countries of concern and 2) national health agency Web sites linked to information on pretravel vaccinations. Recommendations are made to utilize these commonly accessed resources to increase AMS information distribution to the general populous.

Andrew L. Merritt, Anne Camerlengo, Carinne Meyer, and J. Dennis Mull "Mountain Sickness Knowledge Among Foreign Travelers in Cuzco, Peru," Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 18(1), 26-29, (1 March 2007).
Published: 1 March 2007

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acute mountain sickness, AMS
altitude sickness
health survey
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