Do book a travel consultation with one of our doctors to minimise your risks when travelling.
During a travel consultation, we seek to understand your trip and provide destination specific health advice customised to your individual medical needs. Issues which may be discussed at this time include the destination, type of trip, season, anticipated risks and individual medical issues that may impact the trip.
We will discuss eating/drinking safely, insect avoidance measures, pre-existing medical problems, vaccinations and the need for prescription drugs. Standby medications may also be provided. A doctor’s consultation is required for vaccinations being administered or medications being prescribed.
This medical advice should be sought at least 4 to 6 weeks before departure. This increases to 6 months if travelling for a long period of time, or if planning to reside overseas. Remember — it is never too late to seek advice.
Vaccinations provide protection against diseases you might be exposed to during travel. For many countries no vaccinations are necessary apart from booster doses of those generally given during childhood i.e. polio, tetanus, diphtheria and possibly measles. On the other hand, a number of more exotic vaccines may be recommended for those venturing off the beaten path. On average about 30-80% of travellers going to developing countries will suffer a travel related illness — some with potentially serious consequences.
Diseases you may encounter
This is the most common illness that travellers pickup and influenza vaccination is advised especially if travelling in winter.
This needs no introduction and travel advisories and requirements change on a daily basis. Vaccination is definitely advised and IMC is well placed to help with any pre departure testing and documentation that may be needed.
HEPATITIS A (in Asia-Pacific, Africa, South America):
Hepatitis A is a viral disease of the liver and is the most common vaccine preventable health problem faced by travellers after influenza. Hepatitis A can be commonly contracted from contaminated food or water, or from direct contact with an infected individual. Even those staying in ‘5 star’ resort accommodation may be exposed.
HEPATITIS B (worldwide):
Hepatitis B is also a viral disease of the liver. It is transmitted through blood, blood products or body fluids i.e. contaminated blood transfusions, sharing contaminated needles, sexual contact, acupuncture or tattoos. Dental procedures may carry a high risk of Hepatitis B transmission. It is present all over the world, but is more prevalent in developing countries. Vaccination is strongly recommended for those who are long term travellers or residents overseas.
POLIO (less developed countries):
Poliomyelitis is a viral disease which attacks the nerve cells of the body causing paralysis. Vaccination is recommended for those travelling to endemic countries.
TYPHOID (less developed countries):
Typhoid is a bacterial infection transmitted through contaminated food, water or ice, raw seafood (in particular shellfish), raw fruit and vegetables, milk and milk products. It is often acquired from contaminated fingers handling food. Typhoid vaccination is strongly recommended for travellers to areas where environmental sanitation is poor.
TETANUS AND DIPHTHERIA (worldwide):
Tetanus occurs in all countries and can be fatal. It is caused by bacteria, which enters the body through a wound. Diphtheria is caused by bacteria which infect the throat, releasing a toxin that paralyses the heart and nervous system. Although it occurs worldwide, it is more prevalent in less developed countries.
PERTUSSIS (WHOOPING COUGH):
This is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lung and causes repeated bouts of cough lasting 2-3 months, and babies and children are particularly ill. Children are given the vaccine as part of the childhood vaccination schedule from 2 months, and travellers should have had a booster within the last 10 years.
A combination tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine is available.
JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS (Asia):
A viral infection transmitted by a mosquito which breeds in rice paddies. Vaccination is recommended for long-term travellers depending on their itinerary and time of travel, and residents in at-risk destinations.
RABIES (worldwide except Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Oceania, the UK, parts of western Europe and the Caribbean):
Rabies is a fatal infection transmitted to humans via the bite of a rabid animal. Pre-exposure rabies vaccine is recommended for long-term travellers who may be unable to quickly access post-exposure vaccination and those who may be occupationally exposed.
MENINGITIS (Sub Saharan Africa, Northern India, Nepal; Mongolia, the Middle East and other endemic areas):
Meningitis is an infection of the lining of the brain. It is transmitted from person to person through droplet infection (the same way you catch a cold). Vaccination is recommended for certain areas.
YELLOW FEVER (sub Saharan Africa, parts of South America):
Yellow fever is the only WHO compulsory vaccine. A vaccination certificate may be required to enter an endemic country or upon leaving an endemic country and entering the next country. Yellow fever vaccinations can only be obtained from registered vaccination centres, including International Medical Clinic.
This is a bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhoea. This is usually caused by infected water usually due to poor sanitation. A vaccine is available and recommended only in situations where outbreaks are likely (eg. working in disaster relief, slums and refugee camps)
MALARIA (Asia, Africa, Western Pacific, Central and South America):
Malaria is caused by a small parasite carried by a mosquito of the anopheles species. The parasite is transmitted to the victim by a bite. Those travelling to risk areas should seek advice on:
- Mosquito avoidance measures
- Antimalarial medications
- Recognition of symptoms of malaria
- Malaria self-treatment
DENGUE FEVER (Tropical regions):
This is a mosquito borne, viral illness that is endemic to Singapore and we do get regular outbreaks. However, due to the environment or activities you may be at greater risk of exposure while traveling. Prevention of mosquito bites is the best protection as there is no specific treatment if infected. A vaccine is available for those who had at least 1 previous infection before and a blood test is required prior to starting the course of vaccination.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection involving the lungs and also other organs of the body. It may be spread via droplet infection (someone coughing nearby causing the germ to enter the air we breathe), or by the ingestion of unpasteurised milk. The incidence is increasing in western countries, but is 40 times greater in this part of the world. It is a very significant risk in those under 5 years of age, and the introduction of the BCG vaccination at birth, has led to a very real decrease in the number of cases of tuberculous meningitis in children. Many countries have differing attitudes to the BCG vaccine, and when it should be given, but the general consensus is that young children living in a high risk area for any length of time should be at least considered for vaccination. Those over 6 months of age will require a tuberculin skin test prior to being given the injection.
Post travel consultation
Fever, unexplained rashes, diarrhoea and other such symptoms soon after return from a trip should be checked by a doctor as soon as possible.
If you have returned from a long trip of many months in a developing area, a post travel consultation may be helpful to screen for any diseases you may have picked up.