Travel Tips Thursday- Holi Festival

19.02.2019 Category: Travel Health Author: Anna Chapman

Stay healthy at Holi

Holi is a famous spring Hindu festival that is celebrated in every part of India. It is known as the festival of colours and is mostly celebrated in March in Rajasthan.

The celebration signifies the beginning of spring beginning and the end of winter. It is sometimes known as the “festival of colours” or the “festival of love”. During the festival, it is encouraged to throw powdered paint (gulal) into the air. This symbolises the abundance of colours of spring and the celebration of a new season.

Here are top travel tips to stay healthy at Holi.

Don’t forget your travel vaccinations

Travellers going to India should ensure they are up-to-date with their travel vaccinations. These include Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio. Rabies, Hepatitis B and Japanese Encephalitis are sometimes suggested and are dependent on where you’re travelling to and the activities you plan to do there. A consultation with a travel nurse will provide you with all the information needed to make an informed decision either way.

You can find more about vaccinations on our travel and wellness vaccine pages.

Eat, drink and be merry…

India is food heaven but don’t let travellers diarrhoea turn it into a Holi holiday hell. Avoid tap water or ice from an unknown source. Ensure bottled water has an intact seal if buying from a vendor. Alternatively, invest in a water-to-go bottle which has a built-in filter making unsafe water safe to drink. You can pick one up during a travel appointment at the clinic whilst getting your vaccines.

Eat well-cooked food served piping hot, and avoid fruits and salad items that might have been washed in the local water. It is worth investing in a gastro medical kit which contains all the necessary medicines should you get sick at any point during your travels.

Colour vision…

Holi festival is synonymous with the throwing of coloured powder. Contact lens wearers should stick to their glasses during the festival so to avoid getting dye in their eyes. Any dye that makes its way into your eye could cause a chemical injury and lasting damage. If any powder does get in your eye, wash it well with clean running water.

Don’t let the dye stop the DEET.

Dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika, Japanese Encephalitis and even malaria can occur in parts of India. Therefore, banish the bugs bites by covering up as much as possible, wearing a good insect repellent with at least 50% DEET. See our Ultimate Bug Kit.

If you are trying to conceive, travelling to ‘at-risk countries’ is not advised.
For more information on the Zika virus and advise, you can speak to one our travel nurses during a travel consultation.

We’d always recommend for travellers to book a 30-minute travel consultation with a travel nurse prior to travelling to ensure all necessary vaccinations are given and any risks are discussed.

Book your travel appointment today

By Anna Chapman |  Travel Nurse | February 2019

Travel Tips Thursday- Japan

19.10.2018 Category: Travel Health Author: Anna Chapman

Autumn in Japan

Japan’s Autumn runs from September – November and attracts many visitors each year to view the beautiful changing of the Autumn foliage, known as koyo.

Taking outings to appreciate the beauty of autumn has been a custom in Japan for centuries. For many years now, this has become a popular activity for tourists too. Visitors explore the whole country to find the best ‘Autumn’ spots to view the natural beauty of landscapes bursting with yellow, orange and red leaves.

This activity tends to divert travellers away from the urban cities and into rural environments. Unfortunately, this increases exposure to some harmful diseases.
If you’re planning a trip to Japan this autumn….check out our travel vaccination advice.

Tetanus

Whether you are visiting the ultra-modern counterpart of Tokyo or taking a trip to Japan’s must-see landmark of Mount Fiji, traveller’s should ensure they are up-to-date with their tetanus vaccine. The vaccination is a combination vaccine with diphtheria and polio (DTP), which is routinely given to all children in the UK. However, you should ensure you and your children are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations before travelling. The vaccine can be given once every 10 years to those at risk.


Arm yourself with Insect Repellent

You can catch a number of diseases from mosquito and tick bites. You can minimise your risk by wearing long loose clothing and wearing plenty of insect repellant with a minimum of 50% DEET. Our Ultimate Bug Kit is available to purchase online. 

Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is transferred by mosquito bites. There is an increased risk for those travelling in rural areas with rice fields, marshlands, or pig farming areas. It is advised to avoid these areas, particularly during mosquito feeding times, dawn and dusk.
Those travelling to the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) should consider the Japanese Encephalitis vaccination as the highest risk season is typically April to December. Travellers with long-stays planned in rural area’s should also strongly consider the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine.

Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE) is transmitted by ticks and rarely by unpasteurised milk and dairy products. Travellers are at increased risk of exposure during outdoor activities in areas of vegetation (gardens, parks, meadows, forest fringes and glades). Ticks are usually most active between early spring and late autumn. We’d advise those travelling during that time to consider the TBE vaccination.

The main affected area is Hokkaido although there is a possible risk in Shimane Prefecture, Honshu.
Those travellers who aren’t planning on getting vaccinated should avoid eating and drinking unpasteurised milk products. We’d advise all adventurous eaters to consider the TBE vaccination prior to travelling.


Measles Outbreak

Earlier this year we saw outbreaks of measles across the globe, including a large outbreak in Okinawa in Japan. Most countries routinely immunise children against measles, in combination with mumps and rubella (the MMR). However, if for some reason you or your child have missed this then receiving two doses of the MMR vaccination before travelling will give effective protection. A simple blood test can determine immunity. Those found non-immune should book in for the vaccinations prior to travel.


The Flu

Seasonally Japan suffers from regular outbreaks of flu. Tokyo and other major metropolitan centres in Japan are very dense, which increases the spread of the fluThe flu vaccination available in the UK will dramatically reduce the chance of travellers catching the flu while abroad. 

Flight Times

 A flight from the UK to Japan are over 11 hours direct.  Prolonged periods of immobility on long-haul flights pose a risk of developing a blood clot or, deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Travellers can minimise the risk of this by ensuring they keep mobile and hydrated on the flight, avoid wearing restrictive clothing, and wearing flight stockings to aid circulation.

Altitude illness in Japan

Rapid exposure to low amounts of oxygen at high elevation can cause altitude sickness. There are a number of places in Japan which are higher than 2,500 metres, such as Mt Fuji, 3,776m.
Travellers should avoid travelling from altitudes less than 1,200m to altitudes greater than 3,500m in a single day. An ascent above 3,000m should be gradual. Travellers should avoid increasing sleeping elevation by more than 500m per day. Also, ensure a rest day (at the same altitude) every three or four days.

 

Book your travel appointment today

By Anna Chapman |  Travel Nurse | October 2018

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World Encephalitis Day

19.05.2018 Category: Health Clearance Author: Anna Chapman

Around 8 in 10 people don’t know what encephalitis is and so World Encephalitis Day aims to raise awareness of this illness, which causes brain inflammation and affects 6,000 people a year in the UK and has a high mortality rate.

Symptoms of Encephalitis

Infectious encephalitis usually begins with a ‘flu-like illness’ or a headache. Typically more serious symptoms follow hours to days, or sometimes weeks later. The most serious finding is an alteration in the level of consciousness. This can range from mild confusion or drowsiness to loss of consciousness and coma. Other symptoms include a high temperature, seizures (fits), aversion to bright lights, inability to speak or control movement, sensory changes, neck stiffness or uncharacteristic behaviour.

Autoimmune encephalitis often has a longer onset. Symptoms will vary depending on the type of encephalitis related antibody but may include: confusion, altered personality or behaviour, psychosis, movement disorders, seizures, hallucinations, memory loss, or sleep disturbances.

WHAT IS ENCEPHALITIS?

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. It is caused either by an infection invading the brain (infectious encephalitis) or through the immune system attacking the brain in error (post-infectious or autoimmune encephalitis).

Anyone at any age can get encephalitis. There are up to 6,000 cases in the UK each year and potentially hundreds of thousands worldwide. In the USA there were approximately 250,000 patients admitted to hospital with a diagnosis of encephalitis in the last decade.

CAUSES OF ENCEPHALITIS?

The inflammation is caused either by an infection invading the brain (infectious encephalitis) or through the immune system attacking the brain in error (post-infectious or autoimmune encephalitis). Viruses are the most frequently identified cause of infectious encephalitis (e.g. herpes viruses, enteroviruses, West Nile, Japanese encephalitis, La Crosse, St. Louis, Western equine, Eastern equine viruses and tick-borne viruses). Any virus has the potential to produce encephalitis, but not everybody who is infected with these viruses will develop encephalitis. Very rarely, bacteria, fungus or parasites can also cause encephalitis.

SYMPTOMS OF ENCEPHALITIS

Infectious encephalitis usually begins with a ‘flu-like illness’ or a headache. Typically more serious symptoms follow hours to days, or sometimes weeks later. The most serious finding is an alteration in the level of consciousness. This can range from mild confusion or drowsiness to loss of consciousness and coma. Other symptoms include a high temperature, seizures (fits), aversion to bright lights, inability to speak or control movement, sensory changes, neck stiffness or uncharacteristic behaviour.

Autoimmune encephalitis often has a longer onset. Symptoms will vary depending on the type of encephalitis related antibody but may include: confusion, altered personality or behaviour, psychosis, movement disorders, seizures, hallucinations, memory loss, or sleep disturbances.

DIAGNOSIS OF ENCEPHALITIS

Symptoms alone often do not allow sufficient ability to distinguish between the many diseases that can mimic encephalitis. Therefore, doctors perform a variety of hospital tests –  it is important that investigations are carried out as soon as possible as prompt diagnosis reduces mortality and improves the outcomes.

With increasing numbers of people travelling worldwide, it is important to highlight the risk of infectious encephalitis which can be spread by mosquitoes (Japanese encephalitis ), ticks (Tick-borne encephalitis,) or other animals (Rabies).

If you are concerned about travelling to an area with the possibility of encephalitis infection, please visit our country vaccination guide for specific advice on your destination.

Information from The Encephalitis Society 

You can protect yourself from Japanese Encephalitis and Tick-borne Encephalitis with vaccinations. Book your travel vaccination appointment today.