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This website provides general tips, and links to sources of official advice. We cannot provide personal health advice. We urge you to seek health advice for your particular circumstances from a medical practitioner.
Main sources of official advice are the World Health Organisation, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New Zealand Ministry of Health, and the New Zealand Accident Compensation Commission (ACC). Your medical practitioner should have access to other current sources of information.
A number of countries overseas continue to have measles outbreaks, including parts of the UK, North and South America, and Asia. England and Wales are currently experiencing particularly high rates of measles in some areas.
Measles outbreaks overseas will probably continue to occur from time to time until this disease is eliminated. New Zealand is at risk of future outbreaks if travellers who are not immune bring the infection back into the country. This is also the case for some other vaccine preventable diseases, such as mumps and rubella.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health is consequently advising travellers to ensure that their measles vaccination and other routine immunisations are up-to-date prior to overseas travel. Two doses of the vaccine are required to ensure full protection against the disease.
Check with your doctor whether you and your family are protected against measles - especially adults born after December 1968 as you may not have been fully immunised.
This advice is in addition to any travel specific vaccinations that may be required.
More information can be found on the Ministry of Health website
Chinese health authorities have notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) of human cases of avian influenza from the A(H7N9) influenza strain. Health authorities in Taiwan have also reported a case in a man recently returned from China.
At this stage, the WHO is not recommending against travel to any areas affected by avian influenza [external link to OIE website].
There is no evidence of ready human to human transmission of A(H7N9).
The risk of contracting this disease is believed to be very low, provided you take the necessary precautions.
Advice to New Zealanders living or travelling overseas
New Zealanders living or travelling overseas are advised the risk of contracting avian influenza is believed to be very low provided you:
In addition, we recommend you:
There is an on-going outbreak of serogroup C invasive meningococcal disease among gay men living in New York city. The New Zealand Ministry of Health has recommend meningococcal vaccinations for the following New Zealanders who are traveling to or living in New York City:
For more information please see:
Ministry of Health information on meningococcal disease
Centre for Disease Control information on meningococcal in New York city
In 2012, 38 cases of typhoid fever were diagnosed in New Zealand, with most of them in people who had travelled in either Samoa or India at the time they would have become infected.
Samoa and India are countries where typhoid fever is quite widespread. It is a serious disease, and travellers to Samoa and India are advised to be immunised against typhoid fever before their travel (3 doses of oral vaccine are required) AND to follow water and food precautions as well as good hand hygiene during their travel.
To avoid illness, travellers are advised to select food with care, as raw food may be contaminated. This means travellers are advised to avoid salads, uncooked vegetables, and unpasteurised milk and milk products. Travellers should eat only food that has been fully cooked and is still hot, and fruit that has been washed in clean water (see below) and then peeled by the traveller.
Travellers should avoid drinking tap water unless reasonably certain it is not contaminated. In areas where tap water may be contaminated, commercially bottled water from an unopened, sealed container, or water that has been adequately disinfected should be used for drinking, and for brushing teeth. Drinks made with boiled water and served steaming hot (such as tea and coffee) are generally safe to drink.
Carbonated soft drinks, commercially prepared fruit drinks, and alcohol, that are served in unopened, sealed cans or bottles can also generally be considered safe.
Drinks that may not be safe for consumption include fountain drinks, fruit drinks made with tap water, iced tea, and iced coffee. Because ice may be made from contaminated water, travellers should ask that beverages are served without ice.
Travellers should not swim or wade in water that may be contaminated with human or animal faeces or sewage.
There are seasonal outbreaks of dengue fever in North Queensland, Australia, in many parts of the Pacific (Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu), as well as countries in Asia (including India) and Latin/South America. Dengue fever is a serious viral disease spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes.
As there is no vaccine to protect against dengue fever, travellers to these regions are advised to use insect repellent, wear protective clothing, and stay in lodgings where there are mosquito screens on windows and doors. If you feel unwell during your trip or in the first two weeks after your return, you are advised to seek immediate medical advice.
A small number of cases of Legionnaires’ disease have been reported amongst travellers recently returned to Australia from the Kuta region of Bali. Indonesian health authorities and the World Health Organisation are aware of the outbreak and are investigating possible sources.
New Zealand travellers who have recently returned from Bali and experience flu-like symptoms such as fever and a cough should seek health advice straight away by phoning their doctor or Healthline on 0800 611 116 (Healthline operates 24/7).
For more information on Legionnaires’ disease (Legionellosis) see the World Health Organisation website [external link].
A cholera outbreak has recently spread through parts of Papua New Guinea (Morobe Province and Eastern Highlands). The disease has more recently been confirmed as present in Port Moresby.
Cholera is a diarrhoeal disease caused by a bacterial infection and can result in severe dehydration and possible death. There are vaccines available, however these do not provide 100% cover.
Travellers are advised to rigorously follow basic hygiene precautions, which include washing hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating or handling food; avoiding eating raw food and drinking only water that has been boiled or treated with chlorine.
For more information on Cholera see the World Health Organisation website [external link].
In late 2008 the Indonesian Government confirmed the presence of rabies on the island of Bali, Indonesia, currently affecting dogs. A number of people showing rabies like symptoms have died after being bitten by dogs. Rabies is a serious and life-threatening infection, most often spread through animal bites and scratches. Bali has traditionally been considered rabies free, but this outbreak means that anyone planning to travel to the island needs to be aware of this new risk. Travellers should discuss whether there is any need for a rabies vaccination with their doctor. Travellers to Bali should also be careful to avoid bites from dogs in particular, as well as from other animals such as monkeys. If someone is bitten they should seek immediate medical attention.
Forward planning and careful precautions can reduce the risks of health problems during your travel.
“Travellers are more likely to be killed or injured in accidents or through violence than to be struck down by an exotic infectious disease. Traffic accidents are the most frequent cause of death among travellers. Traffic accidents and violence are significant risks in many countries, particularly developing countries, where skilled medical care may not be readily available. Accidents and injuries also occur in other settings, particularly in recreational waters in association with swimming, diving, sailing and other activities. Travellers can reduce the possibility of incurring these risks through awareness of the dangers and by taking the appropriate precautions.” External link to WHO International travel and health publication.
Six to eight weeks before you travel, you should consult your doctor or travel health specialist about:
Your doctor should be able to provide you with the advice you need for your particular circumstances, and provide you with up to date travel health advice based on official and unofficial sources.
Different countries have different rules on the types of medications you can bring with you into the country when you travel. If you need to take medications with you, you should check the regulations that apply in the country you are travelling to. To do this, contact the Embassy or High Commission of that country [external link].
If you are travelling with large quantities of medication, ask your doctor, dentist or pharmacist to give you a letter explaining why you are carrying the medication.
In some cases the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) may provide cover to New Zealanders, on their return to NZ, for treatment of injuries sustained while travelling on short trips overseas.
To qualify, the individual must be ordinarily resident in New Zealand.
ACC assistance is not available to cover any costs related to treatment overseas.
A full written medical report from the doctor, dentist or hospital detailing the incident and any treatment received overseas should be requested if an individual intends to put in a claim on return to new Zealand.
The ACC website provides information on eligibility and how to claim.
If a family member dies while travelling overseas as a result of an accident, you can make a claim to ACC. See Accidental Death [external link] for information on how ACC can help and how to make a claim.
If you have an accident or fall ill while you are overseas medical costs can be enormous.
You should ensure you have comprehensive medical insurance to cover medical costs overseas, as well as repatriation costs.
Make sure your insurance policy covers any activities you are planning to undertake because many policies exclude activities such as climbing and scuba diving.
You should also make sure you are covered for pre-existing conditions – whether physical or psychiatric – and, if necessary, purchase specific cover for these.
Talk to your insurance provider about the details of your policy before you travel.
New Zealand has reciprocal healthcare agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom. For details on these visit:
Malaria occurs in many tropical and subtropical areas. It is present in large – but not all – areas of Central and South America, Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the South Pacific.
Dengue Fever occurs in most tropical countries of the South Pacific, Asia, the Caribbean, the Americas and Africa.
Movement at altitudes over 3000 metres can produce problems for travellers not accustomed to such conditions. Anyone planning to travel at altitudes above 3000 metres should seek prior medical advice if they suffer from high blood pressure, a heart condition or respiratory problems, and seek immediate medical assistance if difficulties are experienced while travelling.
Some of the countries where travellers can be affected by altitude sickness are Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Nepal, China (Tibet).
Page last updated: Monday, 29 April 2013, 13:19 NZST