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This guide is intended to highlight the minor and major risks to the health of a visitor. It is deliberately short and should not be considered comprehensive. It was first written in 1992 and has since been updated.

Copyright Dr.Scott, Phnom Penh, 2005

  1. General Common Conditions
  2. Tropical Insect - Borne Infections
  3. Food & Water-Borne Infections
  4. Percutaneous Infections (Bites)
  5. Sexual Diseases
  6. Air-Borne Infections
  7. Health Care Problems – Advice from This Doctor

AIR-BORNE INFECTIONS

Tuberculosis

TB is common and is transmitted by coughing. The visitor having casual sex should remember that women with HIV are more likely to have TB.

Influenza (H3N2/H1N1)

Whereas influenza strikes Europeans in winter, influenza is an all the year round problem in Asia.
Considering that probably 10% of travellers in an aircraft are sick with a cough or cold, and that the cabin air is recirculated every few minutes, you are certain to be breathing in the germs of other passengers. The number of cases of influenza increases during the rainy season; Thailand has 40,000 reported cases every month. This disease is preventable by vaccination. Influenza pandemics occur three to four times each century, and the next pandemic is expected soon.

Avian Influenza (H5N1)

This disease is a zoonosis; i.e. spread from animal to humans. Presently only persons handling chickens and objects contaminated by sick chickens are at risk. Properly cooked chicken is safe to eat. If the tourist stays away from poultry farms and local markets selling live chickens, he/she is not presently at risk of bird flu. However, the concern is that if this virus mutates to one that is easily transmitted between humans, or combines with the human influenza virus, then there could be a bird flu pandemic killing millions of people.

SARS (SARS-CoV)

Severe acute respiratory syndrome affected 8,098 persons of whom 774 died in the 2003 outbreak. Death was due to an overwhelming pneumonia caused by the coronavirus found in civets. In this disease there was human to human spread. There are presently no known cases in the world.

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