Going to the Far East? Here’s Some Health Information You’ll Need to Know
Asia has always held considerable appeal for travellers of all ages. The idyllic beaches, fascinating history and diverse culture make it the perfect destination for adventurous holiday-makers; who are keen for a break that offers something a little different to destinations in Europe.
Indeed, Thailand alone received close to 25 million visitors last year, and close to a million of those were from the UK. However, whether you choose to follow the well-trodden tourist route in Thailand, or venture into less well known countries such as Indonesia and Laos, there are certain things you need to do in order to protect your health.
Pre-Travel: Vital vaccinations for Asia
It’s highly likely you’ll require some jabs before you go, to ensure you stay safe and don’t contract any unpleasant diseases whilst away. Here’s a quick guide:
South East Asia (Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, East Timor)
- Typhoid (required every three years)
- Hepatitis A (2 jabs needed for 25 year protection)
- Hepatitis B (3 jabs)
- Tetanus / Diphtheria / Polio (every 10 years)
- Rabies (3 doses over the course of a month)
- Japanese Encephalitis (2 doses over the course of a month)
East Asia (China, India, Japan, Singapore, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, North and South Korea, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Mongolia)
- You’ll generally require the same as above, but this depends on the region you’re travelling to.
It’s important to book an appointment well in advance with your local travel clinic to discover what jabs you’ll need, and also to ensure you get the correct dosage before you depart. You may also need malaria tablets; but again, this depends on the region you’re visiting.
Whilst You’re There – Eating Safely
Wherever you are travelling, you may be susceptible to ‘traveller’s tummy’; which can cause stomach discomfort and diarrhoea. Many dishes in Asia are well known for their delicious flavour, but also for their spiciness; which can cause irritation to those unused to the heat. It’s advisable to stick to milder meals first, and gradually become acclimatised to the spice!
Although the street stalls selling food present a strong temptation, it’s not advisable to purchase food from them, as they’re occasionally a prime culprit of gastric illness. Of course, it’s also important to drink only bottled water throughout your trip.
Steering Clear of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes can cause major skin irritation, even if you’re taking malarial medicine. As a general rule, avoid spending too much time close to water (particularly standing water), which acts as a natural magnet for mosquitoes. They’re especially prevalent in the evening time, and it’s important to keep your arms and legs covered during this time if you want to avoid bites.
Deet sprays are also effective as a deterrent, as are sprays that contain a citrus scent, such as lemongrass or citronella.
Biting Bed Bugs
Be aware that bed bugs can be a problem in Asia, even in good hotels. When you check-in, inspect the mattress. Tiny bloodstains are a clue that a previous occupant has suffered a bed bug attack, as are dark, damp patches, which may be their faecal matter. If you notice a series of small bites on your body, this may be a sign that you’ve been bitten by bed bugs. It’s nothing to panic about, but it’s recommended that you ask to swap rooms, to avoid being bitten any further.
Keep clothes and luggage off the bed to avoid inadvertently taking bed bugs home with you. Bed bugs are highly resistant creatures, and can survive up to a year without feeding, and it’s easier than you may think to accidentally give them a lift home to the UK!
Taking a First Aid Kit…
Of course, it’s also recommended that you take a first aid kit, just in case you suffer any injuries or illnesses. Remember to take plenty of sun cream, as the sun’s rays can be intense in certain parts of the continent, and remember also to stay well hydrated whilst you’re there.