When it comes to travelling in Thailand and South East Asia in general, there are a few precautions that should be taken to protect against diseases and other incidents.
Thailand and medical tourism
Increasing numbers of Australians also travel to Thailand as medical tourists, and medical procedures in any foreign country carry their own set of risks. If you are planning on travelling to Thailand as a medical tourist you should speak to the Travel Vaccination Clinic about what you intend to have done and associated risks as well as any relevant vaccination advice provided below. Any medical or dental procedures you have done should occur in a sterile environment where all equipment is properly sanitised.
This website provides general advice on vaccinations for Thailand and is not a substitute for adequate medical advice from a Travel Vaccination Clinic doctor or your own doctor. You should consult a doctor about your own travel plans, including:
- How up to date you are with the childhood immunization schedule
- Your travel itinerary while in Thailand and elsewhere on your trip
- Intended activities and style of accommodation
- Your general health and well being ahead of travelling
Vaccinations required for Thailand
Travellers to Thailand should consider getting vaccinated against the following diseases, and should ensure they are fully up to date with the Australian childhood immunization schedule, which will protect against some common preventable diseases, including hepatitis A, occurring throughout Thailand.
Hepatitis A and Typhoid
Hepatitis A can be passed on through contaminated food or water in all parts of Thailand and it is recommended travellers get vaccinated against Hepatitis A before leaving Australia.
Typhoid is also present in Thailand and can be passed on through contaminated food or water. It is recommended to vaccinate against Typhoid in particular if you are travelling to rural areas, visiting friends or relatives in Thailand or if you are an adventurous eater.
Both Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations can be administered in one shot, and this lasts for a number of years once administered. You should speak to the Travel Vaccination Clinic about getting vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Typhoid, as well as taking food safety precautions and avoiding water that has not been boiled or treated (unless bottled).
Taking these precautions will also help protect you against other food and water borne illnesses such as Cholera.
Hepatitis B might be contracted if you meet a new partner in Thailand, get a tattoo or piercing or undergo cosmetic medical procedures. The disease can be contracted through sexual contact, or exposure to needles or bodily fluids so the vaccine is highly recommended for anyone who might undertake activities that put them at risk of contracting Hepatitis B.
Japanese Encephalitis in Thailand – should you get vaccinated?
Travellers to Thailand may be exposed to Japanese Encephalitis, and cases can be asymptomatic or cause severe vomiting or febrile illness with symptoms similar to those of meningitis. Cases are rare, but do occur occasionally.
Japanese Encephalitis takes up to two weeks to incubate in humans, and most reported cases occur in children. Vaccination is mainly necessary for longer stays in Thailand (of more than one month) but those doing a lot of outdoor activities, and visiting rural or remote areas even on shorter trips should also consider vaccination against Japanese Encephalitis.
Malaria and other mosquito borne illnesses in Thailand
Malaria is present in Thailand, however risk level depends on where you are going and what you are doing. There are precautions to take against mosquito bites such as using repellent, wearing long, loose clothing, using a mosquito net where appropriate and avoiding contact with insects and mosquitos. You should discuss these with the doctor during your appointment as other mosquito borne illnesses such as dengue fever and including Chikungunya Fever, Japanese Encephalitis and Filariasis are also present in Thailand.
The main area recommended for anti-malarial drugs is forested land that borders Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. There is little to no risk of Malaria recorded in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai or Koh Phangan, Koh Samui, Pattaya, Phang Nga, and Phuket.
Rabies risk in Thailand is low but still present, so avoiding contact with dogs and other mammals is essential. In certain cases travellers should still take precautions as avoiding contact may not be enough where an animal initiates contact with a human, and especially a child, for example. Increased risk of exposure to rabies occurs with:
- Those who intend doing outdoor/adventure activities such as caving or adventure travel where the risk of animal bites is increased
- Those working with animals during their time in Thailand
- Those travelling to remote areas for an extended period of time
- Children who may not be as likely to report animal bites or contact with mammals
If you might fit into any of these categories you need to speak with the doctor about your situation and consider getting vaccinated. Australia remains one of only a few rabies-free countries in the world, so it is important to consider the risk before returning home.
Other precautions for travellers to Thailand
Generally it is advised not to get any temporary black henna tattoos while in Thailand, as the dye in them can severely irritate the skin.
There is also a high rate of HIV/Aids infections in Thailand, so those who may meet a new partner should use precautions.
Some areas of Thailand can experience smoke haze or increased pollution, especially during March and April each year. This can aggravate conditions such as asthma, sinus conditions or bronchial problems. Those experiencing any issues or symptoms should stay up to date with local meteorological warnings and take precautions when pollution is reported as high. Help can also be sought from local medical authorities.
Is Yellow Fever present in Thailand?
There is no risk of contracting Yellow Fever in Thailand, and you may be required to produce proof of Yellow Fever vaccination if you are arriving from a country with risk of Yellow Fever infection (but this does not often include short transits through the airport, for example). If you have any concerns about the destination you will be arriving from, speak to the doctor about them during your appointment.