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South East Asia

South East Asia
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Tips to protect your health in South East Asia

The warm seas, perfect beaches, exciting cuisine and low prices make South East Asia an appealing destination for all kinds of travellers.

The region’s burgeoning economies – particularly the island of Hong Kong and the Philippines with its growing technology manufacturing sector – draw in many business travellers.

South East Asia’s natural and cultural wonders are on many people’s bucket-lists – for example the complex at Angor Wat and the clifftop temple at Preah Vihear; or the iconic rock formations at Ha Long Bay and the extraordinary komodo dragons of Indonesia come to mind.

Should I get vaccinated before I go to South East Asia?

There are a few shots recommended for people heading to destinations like Cambodia, Vietnam and Brunei. Make an appointment at one of Canadian Travel Clinics Alberta branches six to eight weeks before you leave to ensure you have plenty of time to get your vaccination regime sorted out. There are also some practical precautions you can take during your visit to South East Asia.

How can I protect myself against water-borne diseases in South East Asia?

The hepatitis A shot will protect you from a virus that causes unpleasant gastro-intestinal symptoms. You may also wish to consider getting vaccinated against typhoid.

Singapore has a high standard of sanitation, but many other parts of South East Asia do not have tap water that is safe to drink. A few basic precautions will help you avoid GI upsets during your visit.

Drink only water that you know is safe. Factory-sealed bottles are fine; or water that you know has been treated. Watch out for ice in drinks: freezing does not kill the viruses, parasites and bacteria that cause disease.

How can I avoid food-borne illnesses in South East Asia?

Only eat food that is hot and fresh. Raw food should be avoided, although fruit you can peel yourself is generally fine. Trust your instincts about a restaurant’s hygiene standards – if you don’t feel safe eating there, find another place.

Are there any insect-borne diseases in South East Asia?

Malaria occurs in South East Asia. You can catch this potentially fatal illness when a mosquito infected with the malaria parasite bites you. Canadian Travel Clinics can help you organize your antimalarials before you leave. Working out your malaria tablet regime is tricky, but our expert travel nurses can tell you the best course for you.

There’s another life-threatening mosquito-borne illness in South East Asia, and that’s Japanese encephalitis (JE). There is a vaccine against JE and this shot will be recommended if you are staying in rural areas.

Although the JE vaccination and malaria chemoprophylaxis offer a good degree of protection, you still need to practice mosquito avoidance. There some other unpleasant illnesses that you can contract from insect bites in South East Asia and there are no vaccines for some of them. These include:

  • chikungunya
  • dengue fever
  • filariasis
  • leishmaniasis
  • plague

To avoid these diseases, you need to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquito avoidance tips include:

  • ensure clothing covers your limbs
  • use a recognized insecticide (DEET is one example)
  • sleep in rooms with air con, window and door screens or under bed nets.
Other recommended vaccines for South East Asia

Your adviser at Canadian Travel Clinics can look at your travel plans and tell you if you need to get vaccinated against rabies and hepatitis B. Be sure to tell them about what activities you will be doing, such as camping or hiking, or if you are planning to work, as this information will help inform their decisions.