This time of the year, many of you will be travelling to India to see your family and friends. Last thing you want is some kind of illness spoiling your stay. Many parents who migrated from India are aware of the varying sanitation and hygiene in India. However, the young children, particularly those born and brought up in Australia often assume everything they eat and drink is clean. We have seen a number of families returning from Indian subcontinent with tummy upsets, loose stools, high fever and jaundice. Following are some tips on Do’s and Don’ts while travelling in India:
Before you leave
- Make sure your vaccine status is up to date, particularly measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), tetanus and whooping cough and your yearly flu shot.
- Most travellers will need Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccine at least 2-3 weeks prior to travel. They are not under Medicare. This means, you need to buy them.
- Some travellers will also need protection against Hepatitis B and Malaria.
- Make a note of nearby big hospitals or doctors at places you plan to stay (You may Google them). It is often difficult to find the right hospital/doctor in a short notice particularly when you are on your own and sick. It is always good to go to the hospital/doctor with your local friend/relative who is familiar with the place and the hospital. And, if the doctor is known to you or your relative, that would be even better.
- If you or your child is at risk of serious allergic reactions and you generally carry Epipen, don’t forget to take it with you.
- If you are on regular medicines, please make sure you carry enough supply for the trip and also carry the legitimate prescription form. Often, you may need to show this as an evidence of proof at Immigration.
- We also recommend BCG vaccine for children born in Australia and travelling to India for the first time. We can provide the contact for the local chest clinic.
During your stay in India
- Don’t drink tap water. This may sound obsessive and excessive, but even for rinsing your mouth and brushing your teeth, avoid tap water if possible and use bottled water.
- Drink only boiled and filtered water. If bottled water is used, please check that the bottled water is from a popular brand and the bottle is sealed and dated.
- Don’t eat salads and unpeeled vegetables. If you can’t peel it, boil it or cook it, don’t eat it!
- Don’t eat ice creams from the local street vendors.
- Eat freshly cooked, hot food.
- Avoid meat, particularly from small restaurants and enjoy diverse vegetarian food available.
- Carry antibacterial wipes and use them generously.
- Carry mosquito repellents containing diethyltoluamide (e.g. Aerogard). Roll-ons may be easier to carry and use. It would be good to wear full sleeve shirts and trousers and socks (either cotton or woollen socks depending the cold climate) to keep you safe from mosquitoes. Back of the neck (collar area) is one area we often tend to miss the Roll-on!
- Carry toilet paper rolls if you are not used to using water for washing. Toilet rolls are not readily available everywhere.
- Carry some breakfast bars etc for quick snacks.
- One of the most common causes of ill health in India is accidents. Please make sure you watch the traffic carefully and look both sides before crossing the roads. Please warn young children about pot holes and gaps on footpaths and roads and always hold their hands.
- Stay away from street dogs or even local pet dogs unless you know for sure they are vaccinated against Rabies. Rabies is a fatal virus infection and only a very few people survive despite intensive management.
After returning from India
If you fall ill, please don’t forget to tell your doctor about your recent visit to India. This information will be particularly useful for at least for the first 3-4 months and up to 1 year(e.g. Malaria) after your trip. There may be some infections you have acquired from India but will take a few weeks for these infections to show up clinically (what we call incubation period).
So, talk to your doctor before you travel to India.
To know about Westmead Doctors visit: www.westmeaddoctors.com.au