23 December 2018

Holiday-makers heading overseas, particularly to South East Asia, should ensure they are vaccinated against deadly diseases and take precautions against other health risks.

Aside from cholera, typhoid and malaria prevention, travellers should also be mindful of the risks of rabies, measles, sexually transmitted infections and polio.

“Australian travellers heading overseas should be aware of new risks in South East Asia so they can take the necessary precautions,” said Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director of Communicable Diseases at NSW Health.

“Measles outbreaks are ongoing in Thailand and the Philippines, and anyone up to 52 years of age who hasn’t had two documented doses of measles vaccine, is encouraged to get vaccinated before leaving Australia.”

The vaccine can be obtained free from your GP. Those over 52 are assumed to have immunity through contracting measles as a child, in pre-vaccination times.

Dr Sheppeard said rabies is a risk in much of Asia, including Bali and now in Sarawak, Malaysia – an area previously declared free of rabies.

“Seek urgent medical care if bitten by an animal anywhere in Asia, and don’t feed monkeys, even at popular tourists sites, as a bite or a scratch could lead to an expensive course of vaccinations to prevent rabies,” Dr Sheppeard said.

“While there is a three-dose jab course you can take prior, we normally only recommend this for people heading away for months, not the casual traveller.”

People heading to New Guinea are reminded of the ongoing polio outbreak – a full course of polio vaccine and a recent booster is essential for all age groups.

NSW Health also urges travellers to practice safe sex – Australia had two cases of extensively drug-resistant gonorrhoea this year, probably from South East Asia.

“Japan is experiencing a major syphilis outbreak, so use a condom with any casual or new sex partners overseas, and have an STI screen once you return to Australia.

“Also, don't forget to carry your regular medicines in the original packaging with the label, and take a letter from your doctor or carry the prescription too,” she said.

For more, check out the fact sheet Staying healthy during overseas travel.