With many people from the western suburbs flocking to Bali each year, we thought it would be useful providing some general information about travel medicine, focus on newer specific risks associated with travelling to Bali and arm you with some basic tools to minimise risk.
A key component to minimising risk is ensuring adequate immunity prior to travel through vaccinations. These can be considered in 3 groups – routine, recommended and required.
Routine vaccinations are encouraged for everyone in Australia through the National Immunisation Program. While the success of this program has made most of these conditions rare in Australia, conditions such as measles can be more prevalent in developing countries like Bali, so it’s important to be up to date with our vaccine schedule prior to travel and check if a booster is required.
Recommended vaccinations relate specifically to your health circumstances, along with the destination, length and type of trip you are planning.
Required vaccinations are mandatory to cross some international borders. The main required vaccine is Yellow Fever for travel to some countries in the Americas and Africa.
Dengue fever and Zika virus have become increasingly important for people travelling to Bali. Neither illness has a specific vaccine or medication to prevent acquiring it, nor a treatment for when a patient falls ill. Dengue cases in WA have risen across the past 5 years, which has mainly been attributed to travellers becoming infected in tropical locations and returning home unwell. Both illnesses are spread by mosquitos and once acquired, Zika virus can also be passed on sexually. The best strategy to minimise risk is through preventing mosquito bites while in Bali, through the regular application of repellents containing DEET or picaridin, choosing accommodation with mosquito protection and wearing long, loose fitting clothing. Because of evidence that Zika virus can be spread from pregnant women to their fetus, current guidelines suggest considering postponing non-essential travel to Bali during pregnancy.
This article was published in the Western Suburbs Weekly in April, 2017.