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Travelers' Health — Australia

GlobeThe preventive measures you need to take while traveling in this region depend on the areas visited and the length of stay. You should observe the precautions listed in this document in most areas of this region. However, in highly developed areas of Australia and New Zealand, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.

Travelers' diarrhea, the number one illness in travelers, can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis) or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a preventable infection that can be fatal if left untreated. Prevent infection by taking prescription anti-malaria drugs and protecting yourself against mosquito bites. A high risk for malaria exists all year in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Travelers to these areas should take mefloquine for malaria prevention. For more detailed information about specific locations, see Malaria Information for Travelers to Australia and the South Pacific.

A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from a tropical South American or sub-Saharan African country. (There is no risk of yellow fever in Australia and the South Pacific.) For detailed information, see Yellow Fever Comprehensive Vaccination Requirements.

Dengue, filariasis and Ross River virus are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region, but the risk to travelers is low. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.

CDC-Recommended Vaccines (as Appropriate for Age and Area Visited):

  • See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.
  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG) (except for Australia and New Zealand).
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid (except for Australia and New Zealand), particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children 11–12 years of age who did not receive the series as infants.

All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Don’t eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
  • Don’t share needles with anyone.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember:  BOIL IT, COOK IT, PEEL IT FORGET IT!
  • Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry, raw eggs, and not pasteurized dairy products. Raw shellfish is particularly dangerous to persons who have liver disease or compromised immune systems.

To Stay Healthy:

  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an "absolute 1-micron or less" filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. "Absolute 1-micron filters" are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • If you visit an area where there is risk for malaria, take your anti- malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from insects by remaining in well-screened areas, using repellents (applied sparingly at 4-hour intervals), and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants from dusk through dawn.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry. Don't  go barefoot.

To Avoid Getting Sick:

  • Don’t eat food purchased from street vendors.
  • Don’t drink beverages with ice.
  • Don’t share needles with anyone.
  • Don’t handle animals (especially monkeys, dogs and cats), to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies).

What to Bring with You

  • Wear  long sleeved shirt and pants, to prevent illnesses carried by insects.
  • Insect repellent containing DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide), in 30%–35% strength for adults and 6%–10% for children, as well as a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin. (Bed nets can be purchased in camping or military supply stores.)
  • Over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medicine to take if you have diarrhea.
  • Iodine tablets and portable water filters to purify water if bottled water isn't available.
  • Sunblock, sunglasses and hat.
  • Prescription medications: make sure you have enough to last during your trip, as well as a copy of the prescription(s).

After You Return Home

If you have visited an area where there is risk for malaria, continue taking your malaria medication weekly for 4 weeks after you leave the area.
If you become ill—even as long as a year after your trip—tell your doctor the areas you have visited.

For More Information

Ask your doctor or check the Centers for Disease Control Web site for more information about how to protect yourself against diseases that occur in Australia and New Zealand.

Be sure to read the information about all the regions you are planning to visit.
CDC Travel Page

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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