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2018 Thailand’s health risks: a traveler’s overview

Thailand has recently reported a new measles outbreak in its southern districts mainly among Thailand Muslim children, as well as a dengue virus outbreak. Thailand’s Ministry of Health has confirmed 2,149 measles cases and 70,146 Dengue virus cases from 77 provinces and 126 dengue-related fatalities in 2018. Because of this, the state of 2018 Thailand’s health risks for tourists has broadened. In today’s article, Pacific Prime Thailand will list 2018 Thailand’s health risks and the top ways you can protect yourself from them.

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2018 Thailand’s health risks

Thailand has a tropical climate, and as such travelers are exposed to a wide range of tropical diseases such as the above-mentioned Dengue fever, Chikungunya, Japanese Encephalitis, and Malaria – all mosquito-borne diseases. As of the time of writing this article, there is no vaccine or drugs available to fight Dengue, Chikungunya, and Japanese Encephalitis, and therefore exercising preventative measures – such as wearing long sleeves and using mosquito repellent with a high dosage of DEET – is the best way to avoid getting sick.

Protective tablets against Malaria can be obtained before travelling, and must be taken orally during your stay in exposed areas.

Besides mosquito-transmitted illnesses, travelers should watch out for the types of food and drinks they consume in Thailand. Food or waterborne diseases such as Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E, and bacterial diarrhea are common in Thailand. To avoid catching any of these, it is advised not to consume drinks with ice, eat fruits without skin, and only eat cooked meats and seafood.

On top of that, traveling in Thailand puts travelers at risk of getting infected with airborne diseases, such as Tuberculosis (TB) and Avian Flu. Pregnant women and couples trying to conceive should also be advised that the Zika virus has been observed in Thailand. One last thing to pay attention to is HIV Infection, which is mostly linked to behavioral actions, rather than the destination.

For a detailed overview of seasonal diseases in Thailand, please visit Pacific Prime’s Thailand dedicated post about the topic here.

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What vaccinations do tourists visiting Thailand in 2018 need?

Many of the 2018 Thailand’s health risks can be avoided with the right preparation and consultation with your physician. In general, tourists will require the following:

Routine and booster vaccines

The below routine vaccinations are recommended to all non-immune adults or based on individual indications (among other factors) against:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella (MMR)
  • Meningococcus (regardless of trips to countries with high risk of disease)
  • Chickenpox
  • Pneumococci

Everyone regardless of planned trips abroad should re-vaccinate against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Pre-travel consultation should provide an opportunity to supplement missing routine vaccinations.

Recommended vaccinations

In connection with the recent measles outbreak in Thailand, everyone who has not been previously vaccinated should do it before traveling to Thailand.

Other recommended vaccinations for those who plan to visit Thailand include:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Typhoid
  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Yellow Fever
  • Malaria*

*Malaria is a life-threatening parasitic disease transmitted by a mosquito’s bites. Prevention of malaria consists of avoiding the stings of these insects (e.g. repellent, mosquito net), and the use of prophylactic drugs against this disease.

Vaccinations recommended for selected travelers

  • Zika Virus – While there is currently no Zika vaccine, all pregnant women, and couples trying to conceive are advised against travel to Thailand, as the Zika Virus can cause severe birth defects.
  • Rabies – This vaccine is recommended to those who will be visiting remote areas and engaging in outdoor activities that might bring them into direct contact with dogs, bats, and other mammals (such as adventure travelers and cavers).

The diseases above might only occur to people in certain states, or locations; therefore not everyone visiting Thailand must watch out for them, and get immunized beforehand.

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Enjoy your travels with proper protection

You can avoid getting sick from most of the diseases mentioned above by exercising precautionary measures beforehand and staying up to date with your vaccinations. However, travelling to tropical countries like Thailand, and also Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia is like playing with fate when it comes to mosquito-borne diseases, such as Dengue.

One little mosquito bite can mess with all of your traveling plans, and weaken your immune system for months; not to mention the costs of hospitalization, canceling the trip, or changing plane tickets. Hence, securing proper travel insurance for the South East Asia region is imperative. But, how does one choose travel insurance that will cover all of their medical needs while travelling?

An expert’s advice

One thing for you to consider is that in most cases, you will be directed to a private hospital, where the staff speak English, and in general, the costs of your treatment can be high. Choosing the right benefit limits with the right insurer can save you from trouble should you need an urgent hospital visit.

If you’re not sure what types of benefits you should look for in a good travel insurance policy to protect yourself from the 2018 Thailand’s health risks, simply reach out to the insurance experts at Pacific Prime Thailand. The team will be able to guide you through the different insurers and plan options, and provide you with free impartial advice and quotations. On top of that, they will be there with you every step of the way to advise on the best hospitals to go to, and facilitate the claims process for you – all at no extra cost vs going directly to the insurer.

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Content Writer at Pacific Prime Thailand
Elwira Skrybus is a content writer at Pacific Prime. In her everyday work, she is utilizing her previous social media and branding experience to create informative articles, guides, and reports to help our readers simplify the sometimes-puzzling world of international health insurance.

When she isn’t writing, you are most likely to find Elwira in search of the perfect plant-based burger or enjoying Hong Kong’s great outdoors either at the beach or from the boat - the closer to the sea, the better!