Disease & Vaccinations

Vaccinations

Although no vaccinations are officially required for entry to Cambodia, they are highly encouraged.
Check at least 6 weeks before your departure with a specialised travel medicine health care provider for their suggested vaccinations. Your GP should be able to recommend a specialist.
The vaccination specialist should provide you with an International Certificate of Vaccination, which we recommend taking with you on your travels.

By no means am I a doctor; the below information is not medical advice and is aimed at healthy adults only. Pregnant women and people traveling with children should search specialised advise from their GP.


Mosquito-borne diseases

The best way to avoid mosquito-borne diseases is to avoid mosquito bites. Read our ‘Basic Health advise for Cambodia’ post for tips to avoid mosquito bites.


Dengue Fever

Mosquito-borne virus of the Flavivirus genus.
Cambodia has a high Dengue virus prevalence.
Vaccination: not available as yet, several medicine producers are attempting to, with one manufacturer being in advanced stages of development (efficacy against Dengue types 1, 3 and 4 – but not yet against Dengue type 2).

Aedes aegypti mosquito
Aedes aegypti mosquito

There are four serotypes of the dengue virus and a dengue hemorrhagic fever.

The virus is transmitted by an infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito (see image above). This mosquito is mostly active during the day time, so take precautions all day, not only at night.
There is currently no vaccine or specific after-treatment available for Dengue. In case of contamination, rest and hydration are key. Dengue Fever is notorious for excruciating bone pains, and has been dubbed ‘break-bone disease’.
Outbreaks are most common in the rainy season, which is the breeding season for the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
WHO states 50 to 100 million infections a year, of which about 20,000 people do not survive.
An infection by a certain strain will give you lifelong immunity for this strain. You will also have a degree of immunity towards the other three strains for about a year, but this does wear off.


Malaria

Mosquito-borne parasite.
Although restricted to remote jungle, Cambodia is a malaria risk area.
Preventative vaccination: not available, but currently in advanced stages of development by Oxford University, (you can follow the development here).

Anopheles mosquito
Anopheles mosquito

Preventative malaria drugs: The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has more information on choosing a drug to prevent malaria, which also gives reasons for and against taking a particular treatment.
If you decide on taking a preventative malaria treatment, check with your travel medicine health care provider what the side effects are of the treatment.
It is important to be aware that none of these treatments offer 100% protection.
Malaria is transmitted via the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito (see image above).

Side note: we personally do not take preventative malaria medication. In the seven years that we have lived in Kampot, we have not heard of a single case of malaria. We have however met plenty of people who were taking medication and had severe side effects, or even had their holidays cut short. (not medical advise, just our personal experience)


Japanese Encephalitis

Culex mosquito
Culex mosquito

Mosquito-borne virus of the Flavivirus genus, that cause inflammation of the brain. Closely related to the West-Nile virus.
Japanese Encephalitis is transmitted via the bite of an infected Culex mosquito, which is mostly active at dusk and dawn.
Cambodia is a Japanese Encephalitis risk area.
Vaccination: injection (which can cause serious side effects – check with your GP if you require this injection)


Food & water borne diseases

Learn how you can reduce the risk of infection of the below diseases on our ‘basic health advice for Cambodia’ post – particularly the food and drink entries.


Tetanus and other routine vaccines

Make sure that your routine vaccines like polio, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), and diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) are up-to-date. These vaccinations are recommended even if you do not travel.


Diarrhoea

Avoid the risk of getting diarrhoea by taking basic food and drink safety measures.(link to basic health post). In case you have a bout of diarrhoea, it is of utter importance to stay hydrated. Keep your salt and sugar levels up and if possible, stay put. Only if there is the urgency to travel, consider taking antidiarrheal medicine such as Imodium. Seek medical advise in case you have blood or mucus in your stool, or in case the diarrhoea is persistent (>48 hours).


Hepatitis A

The Hepatitis A virus can be transmitted person-to-person, via water, drinks or food. The virus causes inflammation of the liver.
Symptoms include a mild fever, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, pain around the right rib cage, dark coloured urine and yellow eyes. Symptoms fade after 2-4 weeks.
Cambodia has an estimated low virus prevalence.
Vaccination: 2-dose injection series on a 0 and 6-12 month schedule


Typhoid

Water- and food borne illness caused by a bacteria of the Salmonella family.
Cambodia has an estimated high virus prevalence.
Vaccination: single dose injection repeated every two years or a series of capsules to be repeated every five years. Typhoid immunisation is not 100% effective, and typhoid fever could still occur.
Symptoms are not apparent immediately, but show after about 7 days. They include headaches, loss of appetite, high fever, body rash, diarrhoea and bloating of the stomach.


Cholera

This water- and food borne bacteria is spread by flies.
The bacteria causes a watery stool, abdominal pains and vomiting. Severe cases have foul, fishy odoured diarrhoea.
Cholera can be transmitted through contact with an infected patient.


Bodily fluids borne diseases


HIV

The first case of HIV infection in Cambodia was reported in 1991 and was followed by a rapid rise in transmission.
Recent efforts to halt the spread of the epidemic, including a programme promoting 100% condom use, have enjoyed success. Figures indicate that HIV prevalence dropped from 3% to 0.5% between 1997 and 2009.
Prevalence is highest amongst sex workers.


Hepatitis B

The Hepatitis B virus is transmitted via blood or bodily fluids (sexual contact, intravenous drug use and contaminated blood).
Cambodia has an estimated high virus prevalence.
Vaccination: 3-dose injection series on a 0-, 1-, 6-month schedule

A combination vaccine for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B is available as a 3-dose injection series on a 0-, 1-, 6-month schedule.


Rabies

Bodily fluid-borne virus.
Cambodia is a rabies risk area.
Preventative vaccination: 3-dose injection series on a 0-, 7-, 21/28-day schedule.
Vaccination after exposure: 4 or 5-dose injection series on a 0-, 3-, 7-, 14-, (28)-day schedule.
Avoid handling stray dogs, bats and other wildlife.
Phnom Penh’s Institute Pasteur offers after-exposure treatment.


Leptospirosis

Bacterial infection through animal’s urine.
Often spread via still standing water, including flooded areas.
The symptoms are like those of a normal cold (headaches, fever, muscle cramps). More severe cases also show red and watery eyes and an intolerance to bright lights. If the bacteria spreads to the brain, the patient may slip into a coma.


Conjunctivitis

Bacterial inflammation of the eyes, which is easily transmittable. Symptoms include itchy and inflamed eyes.
Wash hands frequently, avoid sharing make-up, towels, handkerchiefs and eye drops with others.


Avian influenza H5N1

Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus has been identified in Cambodia; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among citizens who have close contact with birds. (CIA, 2013)


by Rikitikitavi




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