Travel Inoculation – Know The Facts Before You Travel

    Travel Inoculation – Know The Facts Before You Travel

    There is nothing like the thrill of exploring and discovering other peoples and cultures as we travel the world. However, there is a serious side to travel. Visiting a foreign country also means that we are exposed to bacterias and viruses that we may otherwise not come into contact with in our own country. This is why travel inoculation is so important. In many cases, it can save our lives.

    The subject of travel inoculation causes great amounts of confusion and anxiety in many travelers. The type of travel inoculation required will greatly depend on the time of the year that you will be traveling and the geography of the destination that you will be traveling to (e.g. rural, urban or forested areas). Nevertheless, it’s extremely important to be aware of what can be contracted in different parts of the world.

    Cholera can be caught from contaminated food, particularly shellfish and water. Symptoms include severe diahrrea and vomiting. Cholera immunisation is no longer necessary for international travelers. However immunisation against Cholera for aid workers staying for long periods in known high risk areas, or those who have an underlying gastro-intestinal condition, is highly recommended.

    Countries: African, Indian, Far East, Central and South American subcontinents, and parts of Eastern Europe

    Hepatitis A can be contracted through contaminated food, water and personal contact. It is associated with poor hygiene and sanitation. Symptoms include severe vomiting and diarrhea. Travel inoculation of combined Hepatitis A and B, or Hepatitis A and Typhoid, should be given 2 weeks prior to departure.

    Countries: African, Indian, Far East, Central and South American subcontinents, and parts of Eastern Europe

    Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver which can be fatal. This disease can be contracted through contact with infected blood (e.g. in drug transfusion), bodily fluids (e.g. in sexual intercourse), blood-to-blood contact (e.g. sharing of contaminated needles), or by a human bite from an infected person. Hepatitis B is easier to catch than HIV as it is more concentrated in the infected person’s bloodstream and can exist on surfaces outside the body. Travel inoculation is administered in 3 doses, the second dose administered one month after the first, and the third dose administered five months later. Once a blood test proves your immunity, you will be protected for life. A combined Hepatitis A and B inoculation is available.

    Countries: Sub-Saharan Africa, most of Asia and the Pacific Islands, the Amazon:

    Japanese Encephalitis is a disease that is passed on to humans through bites from infected mosquitos normally in tropical surroundings. The symptoms are mild, although in severe cases, the disease can cause brain inflammation. Travel inoculation should be administered one month prior to travel in 3 doses.

    Countries: Far East, South-East Asia, tropical North-East Australia

    Malaria is a tropical disease that is passed on to humans by mosquitos carrying this virus. Symptoms appear 10 days to 4 weeks after infection and include fever, chills, flu-like symptoms of muscular aches and headaches, diarrhea and nausea. A course of anti-malarial tablets must be started up to 3 weeks prior to departure, should continue to be taken abroad, and taken for a further 4 weeks after return. Extra precautions such as mosquito nets and insect repellants must be used as the tablets are not 100% effective.

    Countries: Africa, South and Central America, Asia and Middle East

    Typhoid fever is the result of a bacteria contracted from contaminated food, water and person to person contact in areas where hygiene is poor. Causing fever, diarrhoea, and serious illness, Typhoid can be fatal. The inoculation should be administered one month prior to departure. However, care should still be taken with food (e.g. do not eat fruit unless you have pealed it yourself), water(e.g. drinking only bottled water with seal intact) and personal hygiene as the travel inoculation is not 100% effective. A combined Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccine is available.
    Countries: Africa, South and Central America, Asia and Middle East

    Yellow fever is a serious viral disease that is found only in tropical South America and sub-Saharan Africa and is also spread by mosquito bites. Symptoms include headache, vomiting, jaundice and bleeding. This disease can be fatal, and some countries, particularly East Africa, require a certificate of vaccination prior to entry. The travel inoculation should be administered 10 days prior to departure date and lasts for 10 years.

    Countries: Africa, South and Central America, Asia and Middle East

    Meningococcal Meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis that affects the brain membrane. This infection can be spread by direct close contact with nose and throat discharge (e.g. through sneezing) of an infected person. Symptoms include high fevers, severe headaches, discomfort when looking at bright lights, purple bruising, vomiting and sometimes chills or fever. There are 3 strains of the disease that are not covered in the common preventative immunisations commonly vaccinated for in the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. These uncommon strains, A, W, and Y, can be found in Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia requires vaccination of pilgrims to Mecca during the Hajj. Travel Inoculation should be administered 3 weeks prior to trip.
    Countries: Sub-Saharan Africa, Northern India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Saudi Arabia

    Poliomyelitis (Polio) is caused by a virus that can be contracted from contaminated food and water and person to person contact. Particularly common in Indian subcontinents and sub-Saharan Africa, those infected are often unaware of that they have the disease. In severe cases, it can cause paralysis and difficulty in breathing. Polio is immunised against in countries like the UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand. However, as a preventative measure, check with your doctor prior to your trip for a booster dose.

    Countries: Indian subcontinents and sub-Saharan Africa

    Tick-borne encephalitis is a disease that is passed on to humans from bites of infected ticks (e.g. while hiking or camping in Spring or Summer). This disease causes brain inflammation, and can at times even be contracted through unpasteurised milk. The symptoms are flu-like. Short term travel incoculation against this disease is available from your doctor.

    Countries: Heavily forested areas of Western and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, parts of China

    Rabies is a virus that is spread by the bite of an infected animal, most commonly a dog, and it commonly fatal. A dog with rabies can be recognised by foaming or drooling from the mouth and highly aggressive behaviour. Symptoms include extreme thirst, spasms, fear of water and paralysis. Doctors recommend preventative travel inoculation against this disease when traveling to areas where medical attention may not be readily available.

    Countries: All regions of the world where medical attention not available.

    All travelers should assess their own risk by considering the nature of their travel, and while travel inoculations work, travelers must never assume that they are 100% effective all the time. That is why every health and hygiene precaution must still be taken in preventing the illness. A successful trip depends equally on the preparation we make ahead of the trip and the precautions that we take while we are on our journey.

    Victoria spends 3 months out of every year traveling the world and writing about her adventure vacations on her website. Look Victoria up on Postcards From Millie