Imagine this: You’ve taken a week off from work. Flown to your dream travel destination. Planned some relaxing activities to shake off stress from the office. You’re surrounded by scenery straight out of a postcard and are ready to enjoy yourself.
And… you’re sick?!
You feel feverish, your whole body aches and you can’t seem to get out of bed. If this sounds awful to you, that’s because it is! No one wants to fall sick, especially while on holiday.
Travel health conditions can happen to anyone, with some travellers being at higher risk than others due to the nature of their travel itineraries. However, these diseases can occur even with standard travel itineraries. Vaccines can help to protect you and your loved ones against some common travel diseases. In addition, it is also important to have completed all routine vaccinations under Singapore’s National Immunisation Schedule.
If you would like a list of Singapore’s routine vaccinations, click here.
For more details about specific travel vaccinations, click here.
To find out which vaccinations are recommended for your intended travel destination, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s website for travellers here.
Hepatitis A is a liver disease spread by contaminated food and water. It can also be spread from the hands of a person with hepatitis A, but is rarely spread through sexual contact.
Sudden onset of fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes). Some people have no symptoms, while others have symptoms that last 1-6 months. Most people recover with no lasting liver damage.
Typhoid fever is a serious disease spread by contaminated food and water.
Include lasting high fevers, weakness, stomach pains, headache, and loss of appetite. Some patients have constipation, and some have a rash. Internal bleeding and death can occur but are rare.
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites.
Might take 3–6 days to develop and include fever, chills, headache, backache, and muscle aches. About 15% of people who get yellow fever develop serious illness that can lead to bleeding, shock, organ failure, and sometimes death.
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a disease spread through mosquito bites. It is a serious disease that may cause death.
Usually take 5-15 days to develop and include fever, headache, vomiting, confusion, and difficulty moving. Symptoms that develop later include swelling around the brain and coma.
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that is spread in the saliva of infected animals. All mammals can get rabies. People usually get rabies from licks, bites, or scratches from infected dogs and other animals such as bats, foxes, raccoons, and mongooses.
The first symptoms of rabies may be very similar to those of the flu and may last for days. Later signs and symptoms may include agitation, confusion, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, fear of drinking water, hallucinations and partial paralysis. Rabies affects the central nervous system, ultimately causing brain disease and death. Once symptoms of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal, so prevention is especially important.
Meningococcal disease is a contagious infection caused by a bacteria that is spread by close contact, such as living with or kissing an infected person. Quick medical attention is extremely important if meningococcal disease is suspected. Meningococcal disease is very serious and can be fatal.
Common symptoms of meningococcal meningitis include sudden fever, headache, and stiff neck. Other symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and confusion. Meningococcal bacteria can also infect the blood which can lead to tiredness, vomiting, cold hands and feet, chills, severe aches and pain, fast breathing, diarrhea, and a dark purple rash.
Children and infants may show different signs, such as inactivity, irritability, vomiting, or poor reflexes.
Cholera is a disease spread by drinking water or eating food contaminated with cholera bacteria.
Severe cholera is characterized by large amounts of watery diarrhoea, often described as “rice-water stool” because it can have a pale, milky appearance. It can also be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
Influenza (also known as “flu”) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death in high-risk populations.
Flu signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who are sick with flu often feel some or all of the following: Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
As each vaccine has its own precautions, do always check-in with your doctor and inform them of any health conditions you might have before receiving a vaccine. Happy Travelling!
Sources: Ministry of Health (MOH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organisation (WHO)
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