As New Zealanders travel abroad this winter, it is important to be aware of health risks in some of our favourite holiday destinations, including the Pacific Islands.
Travellers should take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. Risks of mosquito-borne diseases are present across the globe, but are particularly severe in tropical and sub-tropical areas where diseases such as Zika, malaria, chikungunya, and dengue are transmitted by mosquito bites. Travellers to the Pacific Islands, North Queensland (Australia), South and South-East Asia (including India), tropical Africa and the Americas south of the United States should make sure to wear appropriate clothing and use mosquito repellent, as well as bednets where advised, to prevent bites.
In the Pacific Islands there are currently outbreaks of Zika, dengue, and mumps. MMR vaccination will protect against mumps, as well as measles and rubella, so ensure that you are fully vaccinated with the MMR vaccine before you travel.
Zika infection is a particular risk for pregnant women as it can cause severe damage to a developing baby. Pregnant women or women who plan to become pregnant in the near future should delay travel to destinations where active transmission of Zika virus is occurring. Further information on prevention can be found at Zika virus and information on countries currently experiencing active transmission of Zika can be found on the SafeTravel website. This information will be updated as new information becomes available.
Information on the diseases mentioned here can be found under Conditions and treatments, and a great deal of advice regarding safe travel abroad can be found at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s SafeTravel website.
It is always a good idea to discuss your travel plans with your general practice or a travel medicine clinic to review any additional precautions or vaccines you may need to take.