How to Stay Healthy in Thailand

By Adam Vogt

Travel Notices

One thing to worry about is dengue. The dengue virus is present in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Mosquitoes that carry the virus bite in the morning and evening, while also becoming active in hot, wet times, but they can spread the infection throughout the year.
Another thing to watch out for is the avian flu, which has caused disease in poultry and wild birds on many continents. Since 2003, more than 560 people have been diagnosed with the disease in 15 countries, 60% of which died.

Preparing for the Trip

If you are taking vaccinations before your trip, plan to get them 4-6 weeks before you leave. this will allow the vaccinations to take full effect, and start taking anti-malaria medication. If it's less than 4 weeks till you leave, get the vaccinations anyway. The CDC recommends that you see a health care provider that specializes in Travel Medicine. If you have a medical condition, you should share your travel plans with any other doctors you are seeing. If you are traveling to multiple countries during your trip, or are traveling for a long period such as for employment or studies, then you should tell your health care provider so that you can get the appropriate vaccinations for all the countries you are visiting. Traveling to multiple countries may also require you to get vaccinated for yellow fever, even though it is not a problem in Thailand.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

You should get vaccinated for the following:
  • Hepatitis A-If you are traveling to a country with an intermediate or high level of exposure, where infection may occur through consumption of food or water.
  • Hepatitis B- If you are traveling to a country with an intermediate or high level of exposure, where infection may occur through exposure to blood or body fluids.
  • Typhoid-If you are traveling to Southeast Asia, especially in a smaller city, village, or rural area.
  • Japanese Encephalitis-If you are visiting rural farm areas.

Staying Healthy

Diseases can be transmitted through insect bites, animal bites and scratches, food and water, and injuries. Here are some ways to prevent infection:
  • Insect Bites
  • Use insect repellant with 30%-50% DEET.
  • Wear long sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Remain indoors from dusk to dawn.
  • Sleep in a bed covered by a net treated with permethrin.
  • Spray rooms with products effective against flying insects.
  • Animal Bites
  • Be sure to be up to date with tetanus shots.
  • Do not touch or feed ANY animals.
  • Supervise children around animals.
  • If you are bitten or scratched, wash the wound well with soap and water and SEE A DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY!
  • Food & Water
  • Always wash your hands before and after eating with water and soap or an alcohol-based hand gel.
  • Only drink either bottled or boiled water or carbonated, canned or bottled drinks (soda).
  • Do not eat food from street vendors.
  • Make sure food is fully cooked.
  • Avoid dairy products.
  • Injuries
  • Do not drink and drive.
  • Use seat belts and car seats.
  • Follow local traffic laws.
  • Wear helmets when you ride anything with only two wheels.
  • Do not ride overloaded or small buses.
  • If possible, hire a local driver.
  • Do not drive at night.

When you Return

When you get home, if you are not feeling well, see your doctor immediately and give a full account of your trip. If you were in a high malaria risk area, continue taking your anti-malaria medication for 4 weeks.