ITVC Travel Health Advice for Asia
Asia brings with it thoughts of oriental cultural experiences, diverse tourist attractions, dense populations that live either in well developed cities or those that live in less than ideal neighbourhoods…
There are also a range of travel health recommendations you should take into consideration when travelling to different parts of Asia. Including a visit to your local travel doctor before you go to Asia will help ensure you protect your health with a personalised vaccination plan for your trip increasing the chances of coming home healthy.
Travel Vaccination Recommendations for Asia
Here are our top recommendations for vaccinations for the Asia region:
It is a good idea to ensure you are up to date with all the common childhood vaccinations before visiting an Asia (you may even need a booster). This includes immunisations for Tetanus and Diphtheria, Whooping cough (Pertussis), Hepatitis B, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
Hepatitis A (also called Hep A or HAV) is typically transmitted through contaminated food or very close personal contact with an infected person. Water-borne outbreaks can happen in under-developed or developing countries. The full two-dose Hep A vaccine is strongly recommended when visiting under-developed or developing countries and other precautions for hygiene and food safety should be taken.
Typhoid Fever is caused by bacteria (from the Bacteria Salmonella group) found in contaminated food and water. Food is commonly contaminated by the hands of carriers and examples of food that could be contaminated are ice, shell-fish from sewerage contaminated water, raw fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products. Typhoid fever occurs worldwide but is more common in developing countries. We strongly recommend protecting yourself by getting the Typhoid Vaccine if you are travelling to a developing country.
Depending on the destination, purpose and length of your trip a Rabies vaccination may be recommended. Rabies is typically transmitted by a bite or scratch from an infected animal. If you are intending to work on farms or work with other animals, we strongly advise you to have the prophylactic anti-Rabies vaccination. As this vaccination involves a series of three vaccinations it is recommended you plan ahead for it.
Meningitis can be viral, fungal or bacterial in nature. Meningitis is caused when the protective membranes (meninges) covering the brain and spinal cord become swollen and inflamed. Symptoms can be similar to those of the common flu. The different types of Meningitis differ in severity and the most serious bacterial form of Meningitis is Meningococcal Meningitis. Meningococcal Meningitis can be fatal. It is transmitted from person to person by direct contact and / through coughing and sneezing. Mencevax can protect you against this form of Meningitis.
Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is a mosquito-borne viral disease. It is prevalent in rural areas of Asia and Indonesia and can lead to serious brain infections in humans. This is of particular concern during the monsoon season. A vaccine for Japanese Encephalitis is recommended for children 12 months and older who will be staying for a long time and will be visiting countries of risk, especially rice growing areas. The vaccination will require a series of three injections, which should be planned for. The best defence though would be to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.
If you are travelling in winter months, you should consider getting the much debated flu jab. Influenza or flu is a common illness that can severely impact your holiday. Although the flu vaccination does not cover all the variations of flu, the top ones that are prevalent each year are covered.
The above vaccinations are recommendations only. See your travel doctor to get health and vaccination recommendations based on your overall health, age and your travel itinerary. Book your appointment online with the International Travel Vaccination Clinic well in advance of your trip because some vaccines may require a long period to take effect and more than one dose may be required.
OTHER HEALTH RISKS FOR ASIAN COUNTRIES
Other health risks when travelling in Asia may be:
Cholera is common in developing countries and is associated with poverty and poor sanitation. Cholera is a severe infectious diarrhoeal disease, caused by the Vibrio cholera bacteria. Untreated, Cholera can result in rapid dehydration and death. Cholera is most commonly spread through the ingestion of food and water that is contaminated by infected human faeces. The risk of getting Cholera can be significantly minimised by following proper sanitary practices and by following the rules of eating and drinking safely. Oral vaccines for Cholera are available if required.
Mosquito-borne diseases such as Malaria and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) should be considered when travelling to Asian countries.
Depending on your destination and how long you are travelling for, Malaria medications may be recommended. Malaria prevention is based on two defences:
It is best to consult your travel doctor for advice on the best Malaria medication based on your trip as Malaria is widespread and some strains of Malaria are chloroquine resistant.
Dengue (pronounced den-gee) Fever is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes. It causes sudden fever, acute pains in the joints, headaches and nausea. It occurs in the sub-tropical and Tropical parts of the world such as Africa, Asia, South America and Australia. There is no medical treatment and no vaccine. Your best option is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Bilharzia, also called ‘snail sickness’ or Schistosomiasis, is a parasitic disease transmitted by contact with contaminated fresh water (lakes, ponds, rivers and dams) which is inhabited by snails infected with one of five varieties of the parasite Schistosoma. You risk contracting the disease by swimming, bathing, fishing and washing your clothes in contaminated water. To avoid infection:
- Avoid swimming or bathing in fresh water. The ocean or chlorinated water should be safe. Water held in a water tank for longer than a day should be safe.
- Boil your bathing water for more than a minute and then allow to cool before bathing to avoid scalding.
- Drink safe water.
If you have had contact with contaminated water overseas see your health practitioner on your return for testing and treatment if required.
Traveller’s diarrhoea (TD) affects between 20-50% of travellers. It is identified as mild, moderate or severe depending on the number of unformed bowel movements a traveller experiences. It is often accompanied by fever, nausea, vomiting and/or blood in the stools. High-risk areas include developing tropical and sub-tropical regions in South-East-Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, The Middle East, Oceania and the Caribbean. TD can be caused by a variety of germs. Pack appropriate items in your Travellers First Aid kit for treatment and practice safe eating, drinking and hygiene on your travels.
Travellers to Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam should avoid contact with live poultry, poultry farms and bird markets and avoid contact with sick or dead poultry (chickens). Avian Influenza or Bird Flu is a contagious disease of animals caused by viruses that usually only infect birds and in some cases pigs. The main route of infection is from direct exposure to infected birds and their droppings. To date there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission. No vaccination is currently available. Avoidance and good hygiene practices are your best options.
Remember, cleaning your hands often using either soap and water or waterless, alcohol-based hand rubs removes potentially infectious materials from your skin and helps prevent disease transmission. Eating and drinking safely can also reduce the risks of getting ill on your travels.
See more Travel Health Advice.
The health-related information and vaccination recommendations on this website are general in nature. Your exact medication, immunisation or travel vaccination needs will vary depending on your personal medical history, vaccination history, current outbreaks and your travel itinerary / destinations. The information here should not replace a personal visit to a travel doctor to get up to date and individualised advice for your trip.