​Staying Healthy

Falling ill while travelling can make even the best-laid travel plans go awry. But you can largely minimise your risk by taking the following precautions. 

Prevent Insect Bites

A lot of diseases, such as malaria, dengue and Japanese encephalitis, are spread through insect bites.
You can prevent insect bites if you:
  • Use insect repellent with 30% - 50% DEET;
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat outdoors;
  • Remain indoors in a screened or air-conditioned area between dusk and dawn (the peak biting period for malaria);
  • Sleep in beds covered by nets treated with permethrin, if not sleeping in an air-conditioned or well-screened room.
  • Spray rooms with products effective against flying insects, such as those containing pyrethroid.

Be Careful What You Eat and Drink

Most of the illnesses contracted by travellers are contracted from contaminated food and water.
Follow these tips for safe eating and drinking:
  • You should wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating. If you cannot find soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • You should only drink bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Do not drink unsafe tap water, fountain drinks or ice cubes.
  • You should not eat food purchased from street vendors if possible.
  • You should make sure food is well cooked and still piping hot when you eat it.
  • You should not use dairy products, unless you are certain they have been pasteurised.
  • You should ensure you take diarrhoea medicine with you for self-treatment of mild cases, since diseases from food and water often cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

Other Health Tips

  • To avoid animal bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plagues) do not handle or pet animals, especially dogs and cats.
  • If you are bitten or scratched, wash the wound immediately with soap and water, apply iodine and seek medical attention to determine if medication or an anti-rabies vaccine is needed.
  • To avoid infections such as HIV and viral hepatitis, do not share needles for tattoos, body piercings or injections.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep your feet clean and dry and do not go barefoot, especially on beaches where animals may have defecated.

Upon your return...

If you have visited a malaria-risk area, continue taking your malaria prophylaxis after your return as indicated by your doctor. Malaria is always a serious disease, even deadly. If you become ill with a fever or a flu-like illness either while travelling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to one year after), you should seek immediate medical attention and make sure your doctor is aware of your travel history.