Every year thousands of tourists visit India to observe the amazing Taj Mahal, the Himalayans and the caves of Ajanta – to name just a few spectacular sights. The risks to health when travelling will depend on your general health as well as the length of your stay – you may need to go and see your doctor or travel nurse up to six weeks in advance, however, Doorstep Pharmacy may be able to help you even if you have left it to the last minute. Call us for more advice or information.
Take a look at travel vaccines and advice for India here.
Before your trip make sure you’re up to date with vaccines that include MMR, diphtheria, tetanus, and polio – and your annual flu shot. You’ll need to bear in mind vaccines that are required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks, and other underlying medical conditions. Then you need to ask your doctor what other vaccines you need before you go to India.
Other Vaccines and the Diseases
Recommended for all travellers to India:
Typhoid – spread by contaminated food or water – the risk of catching it is higher where there’s limited access to adequate sanitation and safe water.
Hepatitis A – caused by contaminated food or water – and spread from person to person by the faecal-oral route. When personal hygiene and sanitation are poor the risk becomes greater.
Recommended for some travellers depending on their activities whilst in India:
Hepatitis B – picked up from contaminated body fluids or needles – infected blood products, medical instruments, and through sexual intercourse. Exposure though cuts and scratches and people who may need surgical procedures whilst away are prone to this disease.
Japanese Encephalitis – a mosquito-borne disease – contracted via a bite from an infected mosquito. Risks are increased for travellers staying for long periods in rural areas – as the mosquitos breed in the rice paddies and mainly bite between dusk and dawn.
Rabies – caught from contact with animals – and spread through the saliva of an infected animal. Dogs and bats in remote areas can bite, lick, or scratch, making the risk higher, particularly when access to appropriate treatment is delayed. Pre-exposure vaccine can be given, but medical advice needs to be sought immediately after any bite.
Cholera – unsafe food and water increase the risk of this potentially severe disease – most common after floods and natural disasters in areas with very poor sanitation without clean drinking water. If you take basic precautions with food and water and maintain a good standard of hygiene it will be unlikely that you’ll contract this disease.
Yellow Fever – the certificate of vaccination is required for travellers who have come from certain countries – if you’re coming from a county where yellow fever is present you may be asked to provide proof of immunisation. There isn’t any actual risk of the disease in India that’s why the government is so careful to avoid the risk of yellow fever virus transmission.
Insect borne diseases:
Malaria, only a concern in some areas – another mosquito borne disease – and one that can be potentially fatal. Antimalarial medication is recommended for many regions in India and you’ll need to speak to your travel health specialist to ensure you get the correct tablets. These will be recommended if you’re staying a long time in rural areas, have underlying medical conditions, and for those without a spleen.
Dengue Fever, big concern all over India – another viral illness that’s transmitted by mosquito bites – and is more common in urban areas. Symptoms include fever, headache, and severe joint, bone and muscular pain. There isn’t an approved vaccine and precautions such as applying insect repellents and hanging mosquito netting should be taken for the avoidance of bites.
Zika Virus Infection, a lesser concern only in some areas – there may be a moderate risk of transmission of this disease from mosquito bites – the mosquito responsible is abundant in urban settings and bites during daylight hours. The illness is usually mild but there’s a link between infection during pregnancy and babies being born with birth defects. Again there isn’t an approved vaccine and necessary preventative measures should be taken to avoid bites.
Other Health Risks
Acute Mountain Sickness – India has areas with very high altitudes – over 3658 metres – and travellers who go into these should take care to avoid any ill effects. Risks include exposure to UV radiation, frostbite when low temperatures combine with low oxygen levels, and acute mountain sickness when acclimatisation guidelines aren’t followed.
Early mild symptoms are similar to that of a hangover and can then increase to include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, and breathlessness. You can take analgesics, anti-sickness medication, and maintain a good fluid intake until recovered enough to make a careful descent. This becomes a medical emergency when fluid gathers in the brain or lungs and requires immediate medical attention.
Your Pharmacy Travel Clinic
Doorstep Pharmacy will provide you with a travel health service that meets all your needs. You’ll be able to get all the recommended vaccines including a yellow fever vaccine – and a free Travellers Tummy Kit that includes sickness tablets, anti-diarrhea tablets, rehydration and antacid sachets. You can book an appointment to see a qualified consultant online or by telephone at this trusted travel vaccination clinic.