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Wellness

6 Vaccinations To Consider Before Traveling to India

By
Brooke Faulkner
on
December 13, 2019

Here are some vaccinations to consider before traveling to India...

Any seasoned traveler will tell you that you should always look into vaccinations when visiting a new country. In addition to keeping up to date on basic vaccinations, here are some diseases that are prevalent in India that you should consider being vaccinated against before booking your flight:

Hepatitis A & B

Hepatitis A and B are contagious liver infections that are spread through the ingestion of contaminated food or water (for A) or through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected individual (for B). The symptoms, which usually appear after a few weeks after being infected, include fatigue, nausea, stomach pains, loss of appetite, itching, yellow skin/eyes, and a slight fever. A case of hepatitis A can be mild or severe, lasting for a few weeks to months. It is potentially fatal to seniors or people who already have liver-related medical issues.

The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers recommends getting vaccinated for these conditions regardless of where you’ll be eating or staying in the country. The vaccines for these infectious diseases require two to four doses taken six months apart for long-term protection, so you’ll need to plan ahead if you want to protect yourself. People with any life-threatening allergies should inform their doctor before getting it.

Japanese Encephalitis

Spread through infected mosquitos, Japanese encephalitis, despite its name, is a concern for those visiting India. While only 1 percent of people who contract it are affected by symptoms, 25 percent of those with symptoms suffer fatal complications. Early symptoms include fever, headache, and nausea, but more serious symptoms can appear as the virus develops.

If you plan on spending more than one month in the country, especially outdoors in humid areas during mosquito season, get the vaccination for Japanese encephalitis. The vaccination is administered in two doses, spaced four weeks apart. Try to plan it so that your second dose occurs one week before traveling, as this will give your body time to immunize against the condition.

Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection that is also spread through food, water, or contact with people with the condition. The symptoms include fever, muscle aches, sweating, stomach pain, diarrhea/constipation, among other issues. Without treatment, sufferers have develop life-threatening conditions. 

Typhoid fever is an endemic problem in certain areas in India, so visitors must get a vaccination before traveling. While available vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, they are relatively easy to take. One option is to get a single dose one week before travel, and the other consists of four capsules that are taken once every other day. 

Tuberculosis 

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that can be spread through the air, particularly when contagious individuals cough or sneeze. Casual contact is unlikely to spread the disease, but if you’re at risk of spending extended time with potentially contagious people — such as travelers opting to sleep in hostels — you need to be careful. Symptoms include chest pains, coughing, fatigue, chills, fever, and weight loss. Left untreated, TB can lead to death in some cases.

While commonly vaccinated against, it’s impossible to ignore the importance of getting vaccinated. At over 2.79 million cases per year in India, this is a relatively common concern. You’ll need to get the BCG vaccine to avoid contracting TB. The vaccine lasts for several decades and offers protection against multiple conditions, including TB and meningitis. While the vaccination is typically given to newborns, you’ll want to make sure you are up to date.

Unsure if you’ve been previously exposed to tuberculosis? It may be worth looking into the QuantiFERON TB blood test. While many people with TB infection never develop the disease, knowing if you’ve been exposed to it can let you know if you should be on the lookout for symptoms — and a faster diagnosis leads to better treatment outcomes.

Zika

With recent confirmed outbreaks in India, the Zika virus might be the most prominent concern among worried travelers. Bradley University notes that, while the first cases of Zika were spread through infected mosquito, it has continued to spread through intimate contact with infected people. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, headaches, red eyes, and muscle pain.

While no vaccine has been approved for clinical use, prospective travelers can look into participating in clinical trials. In the interim, experts recommend using insect repellent both during and for three weeks after your visit to high-risk areas, as well as using contraceptives.

Before you set your sights on popular destinations like Agra, Delhi, or Mumbai, make sure to prepare yourself by getting these essential vaccinations. Furthermore, you should keep a pulse on current or potential health epidemics by checking for updates with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As clinical research nurses around the globe work towards educating travelers and eliminating infectious epidemics, do your part by seeking out information about potential health risks and getting vaccinated.

Once you’ve taken these steps, you’ll be ready to have the trip of a lifetime — without the fear of bringing anything unexpected with you back home.


Brooke Faulkner
Brooke Faulkner is a writer and mom in the Pacific Northwest. She loves exposing her children to new cultures and experiences and being able to make a living doing so! You can find her on twitter, @faulknercreek!

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