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dizzy with travel health

Posted by christay2009 on 20/7/2009 at 21:30


Just got back from my doctors [UK] where i was presented with a 'travel pack' in which there was a nice big list of horrible diseases

For Laos it has been advised i receive a vaccination for diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hep B. While Rabies, Japanese B Encephalitis, Tuberculosis should also 'be considered'. Additionally, Malarone for the duration of the trip [planned stay of 1 month].

It seems that i've just been handed the WHO list for Laos.

Additionally, because i'm planning to go from China into Laos i've been advised to have a Yellow Fever vac.

how does this compare with anyone elses experiences?

any comments would be appreciated

#1 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: China. Posts: 415

Posted by SBE on 21/7/2009 at 04:56

"Additionally, because i'm planning to go from China into Laos i've been advised to have a Yellow Fever vac."

I don't know where your doctor gets his info from...not the WHO anyway. They say a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Here is the WHO map of countries where there's a yellow fever risk.


As you can see, that map doesn't include China!

As for the other jabs... if you type the word "vaccinations" into the search bar I think you'll find this topic has been discussed a few times before. ;-)

#2 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by BruceMoon on 21/7/2009 at 07:22



Be afraid, be VERY afraid

..... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf...

LOOK OUT... It's the SE Asian MONSTER .... It'll get you, you can't get away...

kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf... kaboomf...

Once bitten, you'll get every disease known to the TRAVEL DOCTOR .... It'll get you, you can't get away... You're GONNER!!!!!/size].

- - - -


There once was a very astute traveller. He decided to visit SE Asia. Knowing how Travelfish helps travellers in SE Asia, he decided to consult the Travelfish forum page on Travel health to learn what health related precautions may be necessary.

And, to double check what he'd learnt from Travelfish, this very astute traveller went to his GP to ask further.

The very astute traveller said to the GP "This is what I've learnt about travelhealth in SE Asia, is there anything that may be incorrect?.

The GP replied Gee, you've got your act together. Just a minute, I'll consult the Travel Doctor website to learn what they have to say!

....tic, tic, tic

Look at that, the Travel doctor website lists so many diseases. That can't be right. Everyone would be dead there if there were that many diseases. They must be just selling drugs. Maybe they are an agent of the drug companies.

Moral of the story?

If you run with hounds, you'll act like hounds.


If you go to the agent of the drug companies, you'll get drug company advice


#3 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by somtam2000 on 21/7/2009 at 11:46 admin

I'd say typhoid, hepatitis A & B, diphtheria, tetanus and polio are all pretty standard for SE Asia. Some of them you may have had shots for as a child or for previous trips, so check that as well.

Malaria depends a lot on where you are going -- this story: https://www.travelfish.org/travel-planning/malaria-asia has some more info.

In my personal opinion:
Malaria: unless you're looking at prolonged exposure in very high risk areas, you're better off taking a preventative route (eg use repellent, mosquito net, dress sensibly and don't sleep naked in a swamp).

Hep A: Hep A is a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned - get it.
Hep B: This can be worth getting -- it's mainly passed by blood and medical procedures. So for example, if you're in a motorcycle accident and end up covered in someone else's blood (as I have been) you're at risk. If you need a blood transfusion, you may be at risk. It's also a STD, and is passed far easier than HIV -- but if you're considering having loads of unprotected sex with perfect strangers in Asia, then you're probably not bothering with vaccines anyway!

DTP: You may have been vaccinated Vs some of these as a child, so check that. The chances are picking up these are relatively low, but these are common diseases in SE Asia, so it comes down to a personal call.

All that said, I'm no travel doctor -- and I'd say it is worth the time to consult with a travel doctor in the UK (not your GP) is possible. Despite the comments above, there are some good medical resources available online including the Travel Doctor website.

#4 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,062

Posted by christay2009 on 22/7/2009 at 00:06

thanks for the help SBE/Somtam

Bruce...not sure how helpful your reply was :-) but appreciated nonetheless

over and out

#5 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: China. Posts: 415

Posted by buecax on 22/7/2009 at 05:09

you can get tetanus, diphteria & polio all together in one single shot. that is something that is normally recommended in your homecountry as well, so not actually a travel vaccination as such.

typhus is also a single shot.

hep a&b (together) you need 3 shots over a space of 4 weeks. (i´ve just had my first one)

my doctor also recommended 3 shots against rabies. (i´m not sure yet if that is necessary - despite rabies seeming to be a problem in vietnam at the moment)

#6 buecax has been a member since 15/7/2009. Posts: 44

Posted by BruceMoon on 22/7/2009 at 05:14


There are other posts here on Travelfish addressing the same issues you initially wrote about (go here).

So, I thought I'd take a novel approach. Apologies if it offended you.

Somtam (Stuart) must take a cautionary approach. He'd possibly be legally liable if he didn't.

I look at the risks, and the costs associated with each of the various risks.

If it wasn't for medical intervention, I'd have been dead long ago. In fact, my wife & I joke that I'm now on my 5th 'life' (ie. I've been diagnosed with 4 life taking events). My body has received more drugs/chemicals than most ordinarily receive. Given this, I am supportive of medical intervention - but only where necessary.

I have been to the Travel Doctor, and I have family members who have been to the Travel Doctor (here in Australia). Every example of Travel Doctor advice rests on the literature in the Travel Doctor website. I now realise that a GP is equally adept in reading a Travel Doctor website, and charges a lot less for so doing.

I also believe that the country specific travel warnings are too vague. For every country that has a travel warning, not all parts of that country are necessarily prone to the cited disease.

It is my view that the voluminous literature now needed to comprehend even minor medical complaints is such that a medical doctor either specialises such that they are intimately knowledgeable with the topic, or the medical doctor is a generalist who relies on advice published for the medical profession [eg. MIMS]. IMHO the generalist has now become captured by the information provided by drug/chemical companies, and so has become an agent for the drug/chemical companies.

In Australia, the drug companies regularly consult with GP's to give out goodies. In fact, a recent media expose showed one drug company gave out holidays, etc., to GP's who emphasise support for their product. The expose suggested the practice is widespread: despite the claims to the contrary by the drug companies.

My experience with the Travel Doctor is an example of an entity being captured by the drug/chemical company. In Australia the Travel Doctor is a company that employs medical practitioners just as a bank employs accountants, etc. These medical practitioners are there to promote the sale of drugs FULL STOP.

As you can see in my 'posts' elsewhere (go here), I do suggest taking a risk appropriate approach to (potential) disease management. Being a pincushion for drug company profit is not what I consider to be a risk appropriate approach. Nor is brandishing fear (as the Travel Doctor appears to do) a responsible approach to considering an appropriate risk management regime.


#7 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by BruceMoon on 22/7/2009 at 05:17


On rabies, go to post #9 here.

Also, consider the facts of 'after bite management' (ie, wash well with soap & water, and apply iodine solution) and that if treated early no ill consequences.


#8 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by somtam2000 on 22/7/2009 at 05:30 admin

buecax: the rabies shots don't "protect you" so much as give you more time to get further treatment -- ie if you've had the shots and get bitten by a rabid beastie you will still need a further shot (one I think but I'm not sure on that).

My advice may appear cautionary to some -- but it's certainly not dictated by legal issues. Rather it is born out of 12 years living in Southeast Asia -- a region of the world where many of these diseases remain all too common.

#9 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,062

Posted by christay2009 on 28/7/2009 at 00:45

thanks for the advice guys, it has been useful!

I'm getting whichever shots i decide to get this week so hopefully my arm won't be too sore

#10 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: China. Posts: 415

Posted by neosho on 28/7/2009 at 04:46

The most dangerous mosquito know to man has no vaccination or repellent. The southeast asia "bar girl".

#11 neosho has been a member since 13/8/2008. Posts: 386

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