Prevent illness by vaccination, take precautions against insect and animal bites, water and food borne illnesses. Ensure you have adequate health insurance for the activities you plan to undertake.
Research reliable websites with up-to-date information on risks to health in the countries you are planning to visit, including:
People who are travelling overseas to visit friends or relatives are at higher risk for some diseases. The risk is higher because these travellers generally stay longer than tourists, eat local food in people’s homes, and may not take the same precautions (such as preventing mosquito bites) as tourists do.
These travellers often do not see a doctor for vaccines and advice before they travel, possibly because of cost, cultural or language barriers, or limited time.
If you are planning to travel overseas to visit friends or relatives, consider the increased risk of illnesses for you and family members and plan accordingly.
For more information, read
Travelling overseas to visit family and friends - How to stay healthy.
Avoid mosquito bites by wearing light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs, and by regularly applying a mosquito insect repellent on all exposed skin areas. Reapply the repellent according to instructions or when you notice mosquitoes biting.
The most effective mosquito repellents contain Diethyl Toluamide (DEET) or Picaridin. Repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) (also known as Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus) or para menthane diol (PMD) also provide adequate protection. Avoid putting insect repellent near the eyes and mouth, or over open wounds, broken skin or abrasions. Always follow the product label instructions.
In regions where insect borne diseases are prevalent, stay in accommodation which provides insecticide impregnated mosquito netting or insect screens on windows.
For more information read
Mosquitoes are a health hazard.
If you are unsure about the safety of the local water try to drink bottled or boiled water only (boil water for at least one minute). Water purification tablets may be required in remote locations, although they may not kill all parasites.
In countries with poor sanitation, raw food such as salads or fruit may be contaminated -if in doubt wash, cook or peel fruit yourself. Street food should be avoided if possible. Avoid any dairy products which may not have been pasteurised.
Vaccinations are recommended for some food borne infections, such as
Hepatitis A for visitors to countries where these infections are prevalent.
Take care about swimming or wading in fresh water in some countries. Infections such as
Leptospirosis are spread by contact with fresh water. These microbes can penetrate the skin, so swallowing water isn’t necessary to cause infection. Avoid contact with any fresh water (lakes, rivers, streams) where these infections are a problem.
Rabies is common in many parts of the world and can be carried by many mammals, including cats, dogs, bats and monkeys. Animals also carry many other infections.
Rabies in humans is a rare but fatal disease which is transmitted by a bite or scratch from an infected animal. Avoid handling any animals, including pets.
If you are injured by any animal you should:
For more information read
Rabies information for travellers.
Practice safer sex by using condoms to reduce the risk of catching sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as
STIs maybe more common in some overseas countries than in Australia.
Tattoo parlours in many overseas countries have poor hygiene standards and may reuse needles. There is a risk of catching serious infections such as
Hepatitis B and
Hepatitis C as well as other skin infections. Don't get a tattoo overseas unless you know the equipment used is sterile.
Be aware that doctors and other healthcare providers overseas may not practice the same level of infection control as in Australia. They may reuse needles between patients or have other unsafe injection practices, which can transmit diseases such as
Hepatitis C and
If you are planning to travel to another country for medical care, discuss with your local doctor or travel medicine clinic at least 4–6 weeks before the trip to discuss the specific risks related to the procedure and travel before and after the procedure. Check for the qualifications of the health care providers who will be doing the procedure and the credentials of the facility where the procedure will be done.
For more information see
Smart Traveller - Medical Tourism.
Don't forget your regular medicines and always carry them in the original packaging with the label. You should get a letter from your doctor or carry the prescription.
Some medications are banned overseas and you should check this with the
embassy of the country you are visiting before you leave.
Road traffic accidents are one of the most common causes of injury and death of Australian travellers.
Road rules may differ overseas. It is wise to apply Australian standards like wearing a seatbelt in cars and helmets on motorcycles or bicycles even if it is not required by local rules.
If you become unwell on your return home, don't forget to tell your doctor which countries you have visited. Some infectious diseases can take a long time to give rise to symptoms, and this information can help reach a speedier diagnosis and treatment.
Call your local Public Health Unit on
1300 066 055.