Southeast Asia is a land full of colourful history, great food, and an amazing cultural energy – ripe for explorers and tourists alike. Here is everything you need to know about the necessary inoculations you’ll need to take before travelling to this wonderful part of the world:
Travelling to Southeast Asia
It may be easy to fall for the hype, but don’t believe everything ever written about travelling to this part of the globe. Every traveller will have a different experience. In order to fulfill your own experience, be sure to begin at the beginning. Ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of experience(s) do I want to have?
- Which countries do I want to experience these thing in?
- How long can I stay to experience these things?
Once the decision has been made about whether you prefer backpacking, boutique or luxury-style accommodation, the fun begins. Almost all accommodations offer tour bookings: trekking, water activities, temples and more. Each country in the region can appear to be similar, but each one has its own history and culture and by default, laws and regulations. Check on pertinent information regarding required inoculations and travel visas for the specific countries in Southeast Asia you hope to visit – as each country will undoubtedly have their own requirements.
Which Diseases to Inoculate
Developing nations do not use the same means of processing some of the basic of necessities such as food, water. Infrastructure and plumbing are not always set to Western standards, and as a result, viruses and disease are common. Knowing which inoculations for Southeast Asia are necessary prior to travel is the responsible way to go.
Though the majority of inoculations come in the form of a shot (using a needle) there are a select few that can be taken in pill form like typhoid or antibiotics that treat malaria. Some inoculations such as Hepatitis A may require multiple visits to a healthcare provider or clinic, so be sure to allow enough time before you leave. The following inoculations are recommended for travel to Southeast Asia:
- Hepatitis A
- Diphtheria (or Tetanus)
- Adult Polio (booster)
Typhoid is a stomach-borne illness caused by bacteria in contaminated food or water. It is associated with the fever caused by Salmonella; symptoms of Typhoid include gastrointestinal problems, vomiting, diarrhea and high fever.
Hepatitis is an inflammatory infection of the liver and has five different types that grossly affect humans. Hepatitis A, specifically in relation to Southeast Asia, is contracted from food contaminated by faeces or saliva from another individual carrying Hepatitis A. Symptoms of Hep A include high fever, nausea, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin), fatigue and a loss of appetite.
Diphtheria directly affects the mucous membranes that line the throat and sinuses. It is highly contagious, meaning it is easily transferable from one person to another. An individual with Diphtheria may not present symptoms at first, but can still infect others for up to six weeks before the symptoms become visible. The bacteria is quite aggressive once in the blood stream attacking the kidneys, brain and heart. Symptoms of Diphtheria typically become visible after five days of being exposed to the bacteria and include swollen neck glands, drooling, a loud barking kind of cough, chills and difficulty swallowing.
As a viral infection, Polio can be extremely painful as it causes damage to nerve endings that can result in paralysis or sometimes even death at its worst stages. Polio is an inoculation most adults have received during early childhood, but receiving a booster of inactivated poliovirus (IPV) as an adult inoculates the body for a lifetime. Polio is less likely to be transmitted through contaminated food or water, but from direct contact (or touch) with a Polio virus carrier. Symptoms include sore or stiff muscles, muscle weakness and a loss of reflexes.
Malaria is a blood disease spread by mosquitoes. Wearing mosquito (bug) repellent when outdoors can help reduce the number of bites when in tropical settings. Taking anti-malarial tablets specific to curing Malaria symptoms is crucial before and during travel to border zones in and around Southeast Asia – as the disease can be fatal if untreated. Symptoms arise between seven and 18 days after being infected and include sweating or having the chills as result of a high fever and consistent headaches.
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