HEALTH PRECAUTIONS & VACCINATION
India is located in south-central Asia. Its climate is mostly tropical or sub-tropical and subject to seasonal monsoon winds, especially the southwest rain during summer. India is an economically developing democratic republic and has worked very hard to control diseases. Adequate medical care is available in the major population centers, but is usually limited in the rural areas of the country.
Many developed countries like Britain are utilizing the state-of-the-art medical services available in India. The cost of treatment is much cheaper here in comparison to the same facilities available in advanced countries.
DISEASES & ACCIDENTS
The most important cause of illness of travelers in India is food and waterborne diseases. Diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. Infections may cause simple diarrhea and vomiting, fever, or, in extreme cases, liver damage (hepatitis).
Malaria is a preventable infection that can create trouble if left untreated. One can prevent infection by taking prescribed anti-malarial drugs and protecting against mosquito bites. Malaria risk in this region exists in some urban and rural areas, depending on the elevation.
If someone is visiting the mountainous region of the Himalayas, he should ascend gradually to allow time for the body to adjust to the high altitude, which can cause insomnia, headaches, nausea, and altitude sickness. In addition, one should use sunblock rated at least 15 SPF, because the risk of sunburn is greater at high altitudes.
- One should learn as much about the health care delivery before venturing out.
- Make sure that the insurance company covers illnesses and accidents abroad.
- Immunizations against viral or bacterial disease are very important and should be done properly.
- Carry all the important prescriptions and OTC medicines. Do not forget to have the brand names as well as the generic names of the medicines one needs to have.
- As India is a tropical country, it is advised to avoid undue stress and excessive exposure to heat and cold.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Do not drink tap water. Use only canned water or aerated drinks.
- General precautionary measures like carrying mosquito repellants, nets, etc., are sufficient for preventing diseases like malaria and dengue.
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
- Do not eat food purchased from street vendors.
- Do not drink beverages with ice.
- Do not eat dairy products unless it is known that they have been pasteurized.
- Sharing needles with anyone can be dangerous; avoid it like a plague.
- Do not handle animals (especially monkeys, dogs, and cats) to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague).
- Do not swim in freshwater. Salt water is usually safer.
Although yellow fever does not occur in India, proof of appropriate vaccination may be required depending on one's itinerary.
Any person (except infants up to the age of six months) arriving by air or sea without a certificate is detained in isolation for a period up to six days if he or she:
- arrives within six days of departure from an infected area, or
- has been in such an area in transit, except the passengers and members of crew who remained within the airport premises in the infected area while transiting and if the Health Officer is ready to give such exemption to the passenger, or
- has come on a ship which has started from or touched at any port in a yellow fever infected area within 30 days of its arrival in India provided such ship has not been disinfected in accordance with the procedure laid down by WHO, or
- has come by an aircraft that has been in an infected area and has not been disinfected in accordance with Indian or WHO regulations.
The following countries and areas are regarded by India as infected:
Angola, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, French Guiana, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Surinam, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Zaire, Zambia.
When a case of yellow fever is reported from any country, that country is regarded by the Government of India as infected with yellow fever and subsequently added to the above list.
No other vaccination certificate is mandatory, though one may like to consult his doctor for inoculation against typhoid, hepatitis A, and meningitis.
See the doctor at least 4-6 weeks before the trip to allow time for shots to take effect.
These vaccinations can be thought about depending on the previous history of the traveler
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG);
- Japanese encephalitis, only if planning to visit rural areas for four weeks or more;
- Rabies, if someone is exposed to wild or domestic animals during recreation.
N.B. Information given above are liable to change from time to time and one should contact the Indian missions of the respective country or the government tourist offices for more information.
For inoculation against communicable diseases, one can contact the Vaccinations and Inoculation Center for Yellow Fever, Domestic Arrivals, Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi (Ph. 011-5665348) or International Inoculation Center, Mandir Marg (behind St. Thomas School), New Delhi (Ph. 011-3361675)