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Health Risks, Inoculations, Vaccinations and Health Certificates

Thailand - Health Risks, Inoculations, Vaccinations and Health Certificates

There are a number of illnesses which expats should be aware of when moving to Thailand. There have been a relatively high number of cases of malaria in the border regions, particularly those close to Cambodia and Laos. There are some strains which have a level 3 resistance but in the rest of the country there are relatively few cases. Those who are staying in more rural areas are at a higher risk of contracting malaria. Preventative measures such as an anti-malaria drug are recommended and all those who are in rural areas should take care to use insect repellent and keep arms and legs covered in order to prevent the bites. Anti-malaria drugs are not always effective due to the resistance levels in some areas but a doctor will be able to advise on the best options for you. Most symptoms will only appear between 7 and 9 days after contracting the illness but it can also take as long as a year.

Another illness that is common is Dengue Fever. The number of cases tends to rise during the monsoon season with more cases occurring in August than at any other time. This is also transmitted by mosquitoes and diseases such as chikungunya can also be passed on in this way as can Japanese encephalitis.

Those who deal with animals need to be vaccinated against rabies as there have been a number of cases in recent years. It may be advised to have a vaccination if you are going to be in a rural area for a while.

It is important for people in Thailand not to drink the tap water, swim in lakes or rivers or walk around with no shoes on in order to minimize the possible risks of infections. Leptospirosis is a common disease in parts of southern Thailand and this is often passed on through swimming or other water-based activities such as kayaking.

Vaccinations are required for travelling into Thailand. All visitors and residents should make sure that their standard vaccinations are up to date. These include MMR, DPT and polio. It is recommended to have a vaccination for Hepatitis A as this can be passed on through contaminated food or water. A typhoid vaccination is recommended for all those travelling to this part of Asia, particularly if you are going to be staying in a rural area. This can also be passed on through contaminated food and water.

Thailand had a number of human cases of avian flu in 2006, although there have been no human cases reported since. However, precautions should be taken. Direct contact with birds should be kept to a minimum.

There are a number of illnesses which are occurring less and less each year. A strong vaccination programme has kept measles outbreaks lower than they used to be.

Vaccinations are generally recommended for travelers, although they are not compulsory. If you are unsure then medical advice should be sought. The high levels of diseases in some areas mean that is it not worth taking the risk with your health.

In some areas of Thailand there is a risk of sunburn and sunstroke. Temperatures in most areas are high all year round and there are long hours of sunshine. Hats and sunscreen are recommended. Other risks to a person’s health include the poor air quality which is consistent in some cities, particularly during the dry season. It may be advised to use a surgical mask, particularly if travelling on a bicycle or walking, in order to minimize the smoke and other pollutants from entering the lungs. The Air Quality Index is published on the website of the Pollution Control Department of the Thai government. The index is averaged based on a number of readings each day and then posted online in the form of a table listing all the major cities.

The best place for the latest health and travel advice is the foreign office of your own government. The UK’s foreign office and the state department of the US government both have websites which give the latest information on travelling to Thailand.

Useful Resources

Foreign Office UK

State Department US

Pollution Control Department Thailand (AQI Index Page)

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

Bupa Global

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