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.
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.
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.
By Anna Chapman | Travel Nurse | February 2019
A new medical paper in Lancet Infectious Diseases has highlighted some of the countries at the highest risk for a major Zika virus outbreak. The study looked at air traffic between countries in the Americas, where Zika is already established, and places in Africa and Asia where the Aedes mosquitoes, the mosquitoes that can spread Zika, are most prevalent. The study also took other factors into account such as seasonality of transmission, population density, and economics to come up with a “hit list” of countries where Zika could potentially have the biggest impact.
Countries with larger volumes of travellers arriving from Zika virus-affected areas of the Americas and large populations at risk include:
- India (67,422 travellers arriving per year; 1.2 billion residents in potential Zika transmission areas)
- China (23,8415 travellers arriving per year; 242 million residents in potential Zika transmission areas)
- Indonesia (13,865 travellers arriving per year; 197 million residents in potential Zika transmission areas)
- The Philippines (35,635 travellers arriving per year; 70 million residents in potential Zika transmission areas)
- Thailand (29,241 travellers arriving per year; 59 million residents in potential Zika transmission areas).
Of the countries with the largest at risk populations, the authors suggested that India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Bangladesh might be most vulnerable to impact because of their limited per capita health resources.
Dr Richard Dawood, Medical Director and co-founder of the Fleet Street Clinic, discussed the paper with one of its authors, as well as the current situation faced by travellers, on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on BBC2 on 2nd September.
“We have always known Zika could spread everywhere Aedes mosquitoes abound,” Dr Dawood told the programme. “This study tells us about the seasonality of risk of spread, and when/where it might take root, but does not model travel/risk of spread within Africa or Asia – so more studies are still needed.”
The study’s publication coincided with the arrival of Zika in Singapore – a major hub for Asian travel and Malaysia, with clear implications for further spread. With this news came the new evidence that Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are capable of passing the infection on to their offspring.
There is currently no vaccination available for the Zika Virus. If you have any questions and would like some more information and advice, please contact the Fleet Street Clinic on 020 7353 5678 or you can book a travel consultation appointment.