Travel Tips Thursday - Philippines

19.11.2019 Category: Travel Health Author: Anna Chapman

The Philippines is a fascinating archipelago, made up of thousands of islands where you can explore stunning beaches and enjoy superb surfing and diving.

Ensure you follow our top travel tips to stay healthy.

7,641 islands,  of these islands, only 2,000 are inhabited.

The Philippine archipelago is divided into three island groups: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Vaccinations

If you are heading to the Philippines you should ensure that you are up to date with your routine immunisations.  There have been outbreaks of measles and polio this year in the country so all travellers should ensure they have received 2 doses of the MMR vaccination and a full course of diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccinations.

In addition, it is advised that vaccinations against hepatitis and typhoid are given. Other vaccinations that can be considered are hepatitis b, rabies and Japanese encephalitis

Rabies

Rabies is an especially high risk in the Philippines. It is a virus found in the saliva and bodily fluids of mammals. It is transmitted to humans by the bite, scratch or lick to open skin. Once the virus enters the body and the nervous system, it is fatal. There is a large number of stray animals in the Philippines so extra care should be taken to avoid contact with animals. Pre-travel rabies vaccinations are strongly recommended for travellers to the Philippines.   There have been reports of falsified rabies vaccinations and immunoglobulin circulating in the country meaning anyone exposed to the virus seeking medical treatment in-country may not receive the proper treatment.

Malaria

The majority of the Philippines is low to no risk of malaria.  Palawan, Tawi Tawi, Zambales and Zamboanga del Norte present a higher risk of malaria. Most travellers will not require anti-malarial medication providing they are careful not to get bitten by mosquitoes. The malaria mosquitoes are most active during the evening, so if you plan to visit a high-risk area, ensure you are cautious between the hours of dusk and dawn and aim to sleep under a mosquito net to prevent bites whilst you sleep.

Insects

The Philippines has a risk of several non-vaccine preventable viruses that can be spread by mosquitoes. Dengue fever, chikungunya and zika virus are the main culprits. These viruses are spread by mosquitoes that predominantly bite in the day. As there is no vaccination nor medication that will prevent this illness, strict precautions must be taken to prevent their bites. Wear long loose clothing and cover up as much as possible, particularly between dawn and dusk. Wear a good insect repellent with a minimum of 50% DEET in it, and treat clothes with the insecticide permethrin for added protection.

The Philippines Department of Health (DoH) declared a national dengue epidemic on 6 August 2019. Continue to follow NaTHNaC advice and take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes

Water sports

The Philippines is made up of over 7000 islands and the main way of reaching them is by boat.  If you are prone to travel sickness you may want to ensure you pack some medication to prevent this so not to interrupt your experience.  There is an abundance of pristine coral reefs throughout the archipelago making the country perfect for water sports.  Whether you are snorkelling, surfing or scuba diving, if you plan to take the plunge you need to be careful to avoid coral cuts and abrasions. Extra care needs to be taken with coral cuts to prevent them from becoming infected. Packing a small first aid kit with tweezers, waterproof dressings and antiseptic is a sensible idea.

The availability of medical care varies across the Philippines, and may not meet the standards of care in the UK. Although adequate in major cities, medical care is limited in more remote areas.

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By Anna Chapman |  Travel Nurse | November 2019