Anyone visiting Thailand for the first time would be wise to read about the Kingdom before first setting foot in it. Learning about Thailand’s customs, culture, food and peculiarities can save you a lot of time, potential embarrassment and most importantly trouble, however large or small those problems may be. Another important aspect of visiting any country in the world is to find out what health hazards it has and what prevention is needed as an insurance against diseases which can possibly kill. In the case of Thailand it’s recommended you visit your doctor 6-8 weeks before your departure date and arrange any vaccinations and medication travellers need for Thailand.
What Vaccinations and Medication Do Travellers Need For Thailand?
The following are some of the recommended and sometimes advised vaccines and medications against the most common viruses and diseases which are known to be a risk to travellers in Thailand. Your doctor will advise you on what prevention vaccines/medication you require and they may vary depending on what regions of Thailand you plan to travel to. Remember to seek your travel advice 6-8 weeks before your departure date.
Hepatitis A is a viral liver infection and is spread by way of contaminated food and water or by direct contact with an infected person. Symptoms include: severe tiredness, mild fever, loss of appetite and nausea. Symptoms normally clear within six months and the liver will make a full recovery.
Tetanus is spread by way of contaminated cuts, scratches, burns and open wounds via tetanus spores which thrive in soil contaminated by human and animal faeces. There is no risk from an infected person. The incubation period is on average about 8 days. Symptoms include: jaw muscle spasms and muscle cramps. Its fatality rate is about 10% of all reported cases.
Malaria is spread through bites from infected female mosquitoes. The mosquito injects a parasite known as Plasmodium into the body. Prevention is administered through a course of anti-malarial tablets. Symptoms include: vomiting, fever, headaches, diarrhoea and muscle pain. Symptoms usually appear 9-15 days after infection. Worldwide there are over 200 million cases of malaria every year and areas with stagnant water are best avoided. High risk areas in Thailand are border regions with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar (Burma).
Dengue fever is another viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes but as yet there is no vaccine or specific treatment although most people will successfully fight off the virus up to one week after symptoms have developed. See link for more details.
Diphtheria effects the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat) and is spread person to person by respiratory droplets (coughs and sneezes). Touching contaminated objects can also pass on the bacterial infection. Symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat and difficulty breathing. A Tetanus vaccine usually includes Diphtheria prevention but check with your GP.
Hepatitis B is caused by a viral infection of the liver which in around 20% of cases leads to chronic liver illness which can prove fatal. Infection is spread through contaminated blood or body fluids (saliva, unprotected sex), contaminated needles used for drugs, tattooing, body piercing and even by sharing a shaving razor. The incubation period of the Hepatitis B virus is between six weeks and six months. Symptoms can include: nausea, general ill health, vomiting and dark urine.
Immunization against Japanese encephalitis, Rabies and Typhoid should also be considered depending on what area(s) or activities you have planned. A certificate of vaccination for Yellow Fever is required from travellers arriving in Thailand from known affected regions/countries.
Please take the appropriate vaccinations and medication recommended for travellers to Thailand and enjoy your trip with the safe knowledge you are protected against those potential life threatening health hazards.
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