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Question:

From New Jersey, USA:

My fourteen year old daughter had been a diabetic for 13 years and is currently on a regimen of insulin the consists of Lilly brand R and N in the A.M., Humalog at dinner and N at bedtime.

Next month she will be traveling to Pietersburg, South Africa, which is located in the northern part of the country. When traveling in the states, I've always carried extra bottles of insulin with the comfort of knowing I could always purchase more if needed. However, my concerns in traveling to a foreign country are:

  1. is Lilly insulin available in South Africa if needed, and
  2. what is the recommended way to carry around all the insulin I will need on the plane and on safari?

Answer:

Here are some thoughts about your safari.

  1. With your diabetes team's help, if necessary, work out insulin schedules for the air trip both ways.
  2. Take one lot of supplies for the whole trip in your hand luggage and have another in the checked baggage to guard against loss or theft.
  3. Check with your local Lilly representative as to whether additional supplies will be available. My guess is that this would be no problem in the Union of South Africa; but might be in Nairobi.
  4. Find out from your travel agent how sybaritic your safari is going to be. In some you stay in lodges at night with available refrigeration and others are fairly basic; but even in the latter there is usually some arrangement to keep the beer (and the insulin) cold.
  5. If you have not already got one you might like to consider a a diabetes carrying case. There are nice cases to carry insulin and syringes, etc., with a shoulder strap or waist belt. One great advantage is that many come with 'cold gel packs' so that you can keep the insulin cool during a day of watching lion in a hot Land Rover. The packs of course have to be cooled overnight.

DOB

Additional Comments from Linda Mackowiak, diabetes nurse specialist:

I wouldn't put the insulin in the checked baggage, as the temperature is not controlled.

LM

Original posting 21 Feb 1998
Additional comment added 22 Feb 1998
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:56
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