The Center for Exploration and Travel Health (CETH) at the California Academy of Sciences has two missions:

  1. To excel in providing exploration health services to the museum community; and
  2. To be a leading academic center in travel-medicine research and education.
Travel Services Mission

The clinical division of the Center consists of an in-house travel medicine and expedition consulting practice that manages pre-travel and post-return medical concerns of Academy staff. The breadth of care includes:

  • Recommend and administer vaccinations, prepare medications, and provide special precautions for those entering areas with known hazards, such as drug-resistant malaria, cholera, or special environmental hazards
  • Accompany expeditions to provide medical care, when appropriate
  • Provide special attention to chronic, age-related, and obstetric medical issues
  • Contact patients' primary care physicians and clinics, as appropriate
  • Maintain on-call staff physicians 24 hours for emergencies occurring during Academy expeditions, including communication with local health-care providers and coordination of safe and effective evacuation from research sites
  • Provide guidance regarding medical-ethical issues encountered during fieldwork abroad
  • Consult on Academy (and Aquarium) safety matters such as the handling of venomous animals, disaster planning and first-aid classes, in continued collaboration with the Department of Emergency Medicine at University of California, San Francisco (USCF).

With Academy scientists and physicians working together, the ability to expand our range of knowledge and publish biological and medical findings will be unique among the world's museums.

CETH Snakebite Project

Snakebite is arguably the most neglected of all tropical diseases, with an estimated 5 million bites per year and mortality approaching that of AIDS in some countries. Teaming up with colleagues from UCSF and India, we are taking a completely new approach to the treatment of bites by snakes that disable and kill by paralysis (e.g. cobras, sea snakes, and taipan). We are reformulating heat-stable, inexpensive drugs suspected to be effective against venoms that paralyze by interrupting transmission between muscle and nerve. Preliminary data from a human study suggest that this approach will be effective and we are initiating collaborations to bring these potentially life-saving drugs to where they are needed most.

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