Other Health Risks
Advice for All Destinations
The risks to health whilst travelling will vary between individuals and many issues need to be taken into account, e.g. activities abroad, length of stay and general health of the traveller. It is recommended that you consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines and /or antimalarial tablets. This is also a good opportunity to discuss important travel health issues including safe food and water, accidents, sun exposure and insect bites. Many of the problems experienced by travellers cannot be prevented by vaccinations and other preventive measures need to be taken.
Measles occurs worldwide and is common in developing countries. The pre-travel consultation is a good opportunity to check that you are immune, either by previous immunisation or natural measles infection.
Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. UK travellers visiting other European Union countries should also carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as it entitles travellers to reduced cost, sometimes free, medical treatment in most European countries. Online applications normally arrive within seven days. Applications may also be made by telephone on 0845 606 2030 or by post using the form which can be downloaded from the website.
For Travel Safety Advice you should visit the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
A worldwide list of clinics, run by members of the International Society of Travel Medicine is availble on the ISTM website.
- Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain - including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
- Courses or boosters usually advised: hepatitis A.
- Other vaccines to consider: tetanus; hepatitis B.
- A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over 1 year of age coming from areas with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.
Notes on the diseases mentioned above
- Tetanus is contracted through dirty cuts and scratches. This is a serious infection of the nervous system. A total of 5 doses of tetanus vaccine is recommended for life in the UK. Tetanus vaccine is usually recommended for travellers who will be in a country or situation where the correct treatment of a tetanus prone injury may not be readily available.
- Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food and water, causing liver inflammation and jaundice. It is commonly found in overcrowded conditions where hygiene is poor.
- Hepatitis B is spread through infected blood, contaminated needles and sexual intercourse, It affects the liver, causes jaundice and occasionally liver failure. Vaccination is recommended for those at occupational risk (e.g. health care workers), for long stays or frequent travel to medium and high risk areas, for those more likely to be exposed such as children (from cuts and scratches) and those who may need surgical procedures.
Malaria not normally present unless the illness was contracted abroad.
Dengue fever is a viral illness that is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. Symptoms include fever, headache, severe joint, bone and muscular pain - hence its other name 'breakbone fever'. There is no vaccine and prevention is through avoidance of mosquito bites.
Schistosomiasis (also known as Bilharzia)
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic infection that is transmitted to humans through contact with fresh water. The parasite enters humans through the skin and prevention is dependant on avoidance of swimming, bathing or paddling in fresh water lakes and streams.
This country has areas with high altitude (altitude of 2400m or more). Travellers who may go into areas of high altitude should take care to avoid ill effects of being at altitude including Acute Mountain Sickness, a potentially life-threatening condition. For further information see Altitude and Travel.