Travellers to countries that have low standards of health and hygiene risk contracting infectious diseases. Most problems are caused by contaminated food and water and by mosquitoes, which transmit malaria, yellow fever, dengue and Japanese encephalitis.
Prevention is better than cure; the advice that follows is designed to minimise the chance of contracting a serious disease while travelling overseas.
Food and drink
Diseases that can be picked up from eating and drinking contaminated food include travellers’ diarrhoea, hepatitis A, cholera and typhoid.
While visiting countries at risk, drink only boiled water and reputable commercially bottled beverages. Avoid ice, dairy products, salads, uncooked foods, ice cream, raw seafood, shellfish and food from street vendors. You can purify water by boiling it or adding iodine tablets.
Important recommended vaccinations are shown in the table. Your doctor will advise you on which vaccinations you will need. Other diseases to consider are rabies and typhus.
One sting from an infected mosquito can cause serious illness. Malaria is common in many African, South American and South-East Asian countries. To prevent malaria, protect yourself from mosquitos and take anti-malarial drugs prescribed by your doctor.
Avoid rural areas after dusk. Use insect repellents that contain diethyltoluamide (such as Rid or Repellem). Wear protective light-coloured clothing with long sleeves and legs, and sleep in screened rooms or use mosquito nets. Avoid using cologne, perfume and aftershave.
Antimalarial drugs should be taken before exposure and up to 4 weeks after exposure to give maximum protection.
Malaria that resists drug treatment with chloroquine occurs in many countries, your doctor will prescribe another drug as well as or instead of the usual choloroquine if you are at risk of exposure to this type of malaria.
Drugs cannot guarantee 100% protection. If you develop an unexplained fever, sore throat or sever rash, seek medical advice.
Different countries have different vaccination requirements. For advice about the country you intend to visit, contact your own doctor.
There are several ways to relieve and treat travellers’ diarrhoea:
1. Avoid solid foods and drink small amounts of fluids often. (Remember: user only boiled water or safe commercial beverages.)
3. Take antidiarrhoeal tablets as directed (for mild cases).
4. When the diarrhoea has settled, eat light foods such as rice, bread or biscuits.
Some golden rules
· Never carry a parcel or baggage to oblige a stranger.
· Avoid casual sex. If not, use a condom.
· ‘If you can’t peel it, boil it or cook it, don’t eat it.’
· Never walk around barefoot at night in snake-infested areas (and use a torch).
· Prevent mosquito bites.
A guide to vaccination for travellers for important diseases (in rural areas of high risk countries)
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The information provided in this website is for knowledge purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice.
Should you encounter any medical problem that you are unsure of, always consult your doctor or health care provider for assistance and medical advice.
Dr Don V H LAU Chairperson of AMDA Singapore
MBBS (Monash), B.Med.Sc.(Hons) (Monash), Grad.Dip.Derm.(Wales,UK)
AMDA International Peace Clinic is a part of AMDA (Association of Medical Doctors of Asia). We are part of the network of AMDA Peace Clinics & Friendship Hospitals around the world. We dedicate part of our profits to AMDA's worldwide Emergency Disaster Aid Relief missions, Social Development projects and Vaccination programmes.
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