Health Guide for
Travellers to Thailand
Welcome to Thailand. Every year, more than 8 million tourists visit
this country as one of their travel destinations. Many arrive with insufficient
health advice which often results in bounts of illnesses that spoil
a good part of their journey. The information provided in this page
will help you come up with appropriate protection against some common
illnesses and promote enjoyment of your happy stay in Thailand.
Bangkok and most provinces in the central region as well as major tourist
resorts such as Chiangmai, Phuket, Hua-Hin and Koh Samui have been free
from malaria for decades. Now all cities in Thailand are malaria free.
However, tourist destinations in rural neighbourhoods, especially those
in the mountainous and border areas are still at certain risks.
Chloroquine and most
other chemoprophylactic drugs have proved to be ineffective against
falciparum malaria in Thailand. Tourists visiting these endemic areas
are rather recommended to take general precautions against mosquito
bite. After sunset, they should stay in screened quarters or mosquito
nets, wear longsleeve shirts and pants, and may apply mosquito repellents.
Those who develop fever within two weeks of entry to risk areas should
seek prompt medical examination and treatment.
This viral infection of the brain, is contracted through the bite of
mosquitoes that prevail in rural agricultural areas. It is found in
many Eastern and Southeastern Asian countries, primarily in the rural
and suburban areas. Similar to malaria, the disease can be prevented
by avoiding mosquito bite during the night time. Travellers who plan
to spend their time exposing to rural environment in these regions for
over several months are recommended to take Japanese encephalitis vaccination
Dengue fever and dengue
These diseases are endemic in Southeast Asia. They are caused by dengue
virus from the bite of aedes mosquito that lives in the houses and their
neighbourbood. This mosquito bites during the day time. Dengue infection
in local people, mostly children, often results in fever with bleeding
in the skin and other organs (dengue hemorrhagic fever) which is sometime
fatal; but for travellers from non-endemic areas, the infection usually
minifests as fever with rash in the skin, severe headache and muscle
and pains (dengue fever), which is usually non-fatal.
Dengue infection is
common in the rainy season (approximately May to September in Thailand)
when aedes mosquito is abundant. Travellers visiting local households
or their vicinity, especially in the rainy season, should be using mosquito
repellent even in the day time. Ones who are ill with symptoms suspected
of dengue infection should seek medical consultation to establish the
Rabies can be found in many animals especially dogs and cats. Although
Thailand has been working toward elimination
of the disease and the situation
has been much improved, travellers are recommended to take prevention
if their travel itineraries allow possible exposure to animal bites.
Those who plan walking sight-seeing in local communities should consider
having pre-exposure rabies vaccination before starting off. Three intramuscular
injections of cell-culture rabies vaccine are required. In case of exposure
to animals without prior vaccination, the pose-exposure vaccination
is usually effective if it is initiated without delay. However, for
those who have had pre-exposure vaccination,
if they are bitten, they should
also seek prompt consultation with the physician for evaluation and
consideration for booster vaccination.
Diarrhea is mostly caused by ingestion
of food and drinks contaminated
with bacteria or viruses. To prevent diarrhea, avoid uncooked food and
drink only boiled of
bottled or carbonated water. Food served
at street vendors should be considered at risk. Fresh vegetables and
fruits should be adequately washed with clean water. Fresh salad should
be taken only from a salad bar or a restaurant of hygienic standard.
Tap water in many Southeast Asian cities is claimed to be safe for drinking,
but it is still advisable to stick to safety precautions.
Danger from diarrhea
primarily is the result of the loss of water and electrolytes from the
body. If you happen to have diarrhea during your travel, the most helpful
remedy is drinking electrolyte solution to replace the loss. Therefore,
it is always useful to keep some electrolyte solution packets in your
first-aid kit. If your diarrhea gets worse or does not improve within
12-24 hours, consult the physicians for proper investigation and treatment.
Typhoid fever has become uncommon among Thai people. However, travellers
should not neglect taking prevention against this food and water borne
disease. Precaution measures for diarrhea, as mentioned above, are effective
for typhoid as well. It is also recommended that the travellers receive
typhoid vaccination, in injectable or oral form, before start
the journey. However, those who need initiation or booster vaccination
can find the service at most hospitals and clinics in Thailand.
diseases and HIV/AIDS
Urethritis remains the most common treatable sexually transmitted disease
(STD) among tourists to Asia. Gonorrhea from Southeast Asia is frequently
multidrug resistant. While syphilis become less common, HIV/AIDS is
spreading at worrisome speeds in most Asian countries, resulting mostly
from unprotected sexual contacts.
Promiscuous sex anywhere
can be dangerous. For travellers, local sex workers, either
explicite or concealed types, are potential sources
of STDs and HIV/AIDS. All casual
sex should be avoided or strictly protected with the use
of condoms. Danger from intravenous
drug use with sharing of
needles and syringes cannot be overemphasized.
However, blood transfusion at all medical centers in Thailand is considered
safe as intensive screening of
donated blood for HIV, hepatitis
B and syphilis is implemented nationwide.
There are two major groups of
viral hepatitis. Hepatitis spread
by contaminated food and water, hepatitis A and E, are endemic in many
parts of Asia. Most local people are immune to these types of hepatitis
through natural infection, but travellers from better hygienic environments
can be receptive to infection. Therefore, travellers are recommended
to practice prevention measures against food and water borne diseases,
as suggested for diarrhea. An alternative protection for hepatitis A
is the immunization with hyperimmune serum or hepatitis A vaccine. Consult
with the physician at an established medical service for the immunization.
Another group of hepatitis;
hepatitis B, C and D; are transmitted through contaminated blood and
sexual contacts, or passed from infected mothers to their babies at
the time of birth; similar to the ways HIV/AIDS is transmitted. This
group of hepatitis can be simultaneously and effectively avoided if
precautions against HIV/AIDS are strictly taken. However, for those
who require immunization, effective vaccine against hepatitis B is available
at most medical services.
Spa resorts are becoming
increasingly sought after places to take a well-earned break to
relax, rejuvenate the senses and revitalize yourself.
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