As India is a developing nation, visitors need to take special precautions against illnesses not normally encountered at home. A trip to a doctor or travel clinic is recommended well in advance of your departure date to ensure that you receive all the necessary immunizations and medications. In particular, the following common health issues should be addressed.
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This very common travel ailment is encountered by many travelers and usually results from the consumption of contaminated food and water. Some people also find that their stomachs and intestines don't appreciate the change in diet or spicy food. It's a good idea to always carry Oral Rehydration Salts, as well as anti-diarrhea medicine (such as Immodium) in case you have to travel and won't have access to a toilet.
- Preventative measures: Only drink bottled water. Avoid buffets and only eat freshly cooked food that’s served hot. Eat in popular restaurants that are crowded and not empty, to ensure that the food is prepared fresh. Be careful of eating washed salads, fresh fruit juice (which may be mixed with water), and ice. Meat eaters should avoid food from cheap restaurants and railway station vendors.
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Malaria and Dengue Fever
Both of these diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes and are most problematic in areas where there is stagnant water for mosquitoes to breed, particularly during and just after the monsoon season. They can produce some very nasty flu-like symptoms and fever. The mosquitoes that transmit the diseases are different types -- malaria carrying ones usually bite at night, while the dengue fever carrying "tiger striped" mosquitoes bite during the day (particularly during the very early morning).
- Preventative measures: As malaria is a bacterial disease, it can be prevented by taking anti-malarial drugs. Dengue Fever, being a virus, is best avoided by taking precautions against mosquito bites, such as wearing a strong repellent containing DEET, as there is no vaccine currently available.
- Read More: How to Tell the Difference Between Malaria, Dengue, and Viral Fever
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Hepatitis A and B
Hepatitis is virus that affects the liver. Hepatitis A is contracted by ingesting contaminated food and water, while Hepatitis B is spread through blood and bodily fluids. Symptoms of hepatitis include fatigue, nausea, poor appetite, stomach pain, dark colored urine, and yellow skin or eyes (jaundice).
- Preventative measures: Both Hepatitis A and B are preventable by a combined needle stick vaccination.
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This bacterial disease is usually transmitted by food or water that’s contaminated with the feces of an infected person. It produces extremely high fever, sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea.
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- Preventative measures: Typhoid is preventable by oral or needle vaccination, and treatable by antibiotics.
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Tetanus is a bacterial disease from spores in the earth and animal dung, which enter the body though open cuts. It produces stiff muscles and spasms.
- Preventative measures: Effective vaccination is available and everyone should be immunized.