Keeping healthy

Eating, drinking & getting vaccinated
Eat and drink carefully - find out if the local tap water is safe to drink. If not, drink bottled water and avoid having ice in your drinks. To avoid contaminated food, don't eat food that has not been freshly cooked - you may also want to avoid meat in some countries as some don't always have proper refrigeration in their restaurants. Always check which vaccinations are needed for your trip.

For vaccination advice, health kits and free consultations, call into the Nomads Medical Centre at STA Travel's Russell Square branch in London or at 43 Queens Road in Bristol or alternatively call the Travel Health Information Line on 0906 863 3414 (calls cost 60p per minute).

A useful free booklet is Health Advice for Travellers - phone 0800 555 777 to order your copy or visit the website at

Here are the symptoms you don't want to get:
Tetanus  Tetanus is potentially hazardous to life and is spread throughout the world. It is therefore important to obtain immunisation. A booster dose is given as a single injection.



Diphtheria is a contagious bacterial disease that produces thick grey membranes in the mouth, throat and airway passages. It can produce difficulty in breathing, pneumonia, heart failure, even paralysis and death. Get a booster jab before you set off.
Poliomyeitis is still prevalent in some tropical and developing countries. This vaccine is given orally, usually on a lump of sugar. A booster is recommended to travellers who have previously completed a course of polio immunisation.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver of which the most distinct characteristic is yellowing of the eyes and skin, usually preceded by tiredness, high fever, and pain in the upper right abdomen. There are many different strains but the most common are hepatitis A and B, both of which can be prevented by a vaccination.
Hepatitis A Contaminated food and water spread Hepatitis A. The Havrix vaccine is expensive but extremely effective giving you immunity for up to ten years. The alternative is gammaglobulin, which only remains effective for 3-6 months.
Hepatitis B 
Like the virus HIV, Hepatitis B can be passed on through unprotected sexual contact, blood transfusions and dirty needles. It is therefore usually recommended for health workers and persons planning extended stays of over 6 months.
Typhoid Typhoid is a disease contracted from contaminated food and water which leads to high fever and septicaemia. An effective vaccine which can be administered either by injection (leaving you with a stiff arm for two days) or orally. The importance of having this vaccination increases as good medical care becomes more limited. It is recommended to persons staying longer than 3 weeks and those who venture off the beaten track to small villages and rural areas.
Rabies Rabies is a pre-exposure vaccine consisting of two injections over 1-3 months with a third a year later and a booster every 2-5 years. If bitten you still need to have shots but fewer than otherwise and it gives you more time to reach medical help.
Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever is a single injection provides protection against Yellow Fever for ten years. The holding of an International Certificate of Vaccination which shows that you have been vaccinated against this disease is mandatory when entering certain countries.
Meningitis This is a bacterial infection of the tissues lining the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include headaches, stiff neck, fever and intolerance of bright light. If not treated early coma and death can occur very quickly. It is most commonly contracted in crowded areas such as dormitories, buses etc. Vaccination provides effective immunisation against four of the meningococcus bacteria, and proof of this vaccination may be needed to travel in certain countries.
Malaria is caused by a blood parasite spread by a certain species of night flying mosquito. It can be contracted from a single bite and can be fatal. Start on a course of anti-malarial drugs before you set off and keep taking them as you travel. Some anti-malarial drugs have bad side effects but are still recommended due to the resistance of the parasite to alternatives. If you develop malarial symptoms - high fever, severe headaches and shivering seek expert medical help immediately. Always use mosquito nets and repellents in infected areas.