Common Diseases of Outbound Travel

Diarrhea may be the most prevalent problem encountered when traveling abroad. Through contaminated food and water, intestinal diseases such as cholera, hepatitis A, and typhoid are transmitted. If you travel to countries or cities with poor sanitation, inadequate facilities, and inadequate infrastructure, you have a greater chance of contracting "traveller's diarrhoea." The primary causes of traveler's gastroenteritis are consuming contaminated food or water or beverages. 


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Crowded environments, changes in eating habits, inadaptation to the climate, time differences, etc., are also factors that weaken your ability to resist diseases and are more susceptible to them. To ensure an enjoyable journey, before departure, you should:

  • Pay attention to the sanitation situation of the destination and notify the latest epidemic information: some areas with high risk of infectious diseases will require visitors to have a designated immunisation certificate
  • Health screening according to personal health status/ conditions
  • Get vaccinated or prepare preventive medicine
  • If you have any other health conditions such as asthma, allergies, long-term illnesses, etc., please consult with your family doctor before travelling
During travel
During travel

Be well-prepared before travelling, understanding the local environment, conditions and cultural beliefs of the destination, so as to reduce the chances of the above situations happening. Take appropriate precautionary measures during the journey and pay attention to personal, dietary and environmental hygiene. 


Be aware of food and personal hygiene

To prevent traveller's diarrhoea or other intestinal infectious diseases, you should pay attention to  safety and hygiene of food, beverages and drinking water. Mild cases will usually recover within a few days. However, if there is fever, blood in the stool or mucus, etc., you should seek medical treatment immediately, and do not use anti-diarrheal drugs indiscriminately.



  • Always wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet
  • Eat only fully cooked food
  • Avoid eating undercooked seafood
  • Drink only boiled water or bottled drinks from reputable companies
  • Avoid drinks with ice cubes
  • Do not eat peeled fruits and unwashed vegetables
  • Do not eat from unlicensed food stalls


Be aware of mosquitos and bugs

Many people may go to tropical or subtropical countries during the holidays. Mosquito-borne diseases such as Yellow Fever, Dengue fever, West Nile virus and Malaria are very common in these places. Personal protection is especially important when travelling abroad:


  • Reduce time spent outdoors during mosquito feeding times (e.g. dusk to early morning hours)
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers to protect hands, feet and ankles at outdoor
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin or even clothes: reapply according to the product instructions, and the selected DEET concentration should be about 35% for adults and no higher than 10% for children
  • Stay in an air-conditioned room or a room with mosquito screen
  • Use a mosquito net to cover the bed if your room does not have mosquito-proof equipment

Be aware that travel-related discomfort can still occur after returning to Hong Kong. Therefore, within three months after your returning, if you have fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, jaundice, urinary disorders, skin diseases, etc., you should consult a doctor as soon as possible, and provide the doctor with information on the places you have visited, including destinations, activities and time of stay.

Common Diseases of Outbound Travel
Common Diseases of Outbound Travel

Food Poisoning/Hepatitis A/Cholera/Typhoid


Food Poisoning: Food and drinking water can be contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, chemical toxins, etc. through different channels. Poisoning may occur after eating or drinking.

Hepatitis A: Spread through contaminated food and drink, severe cases can lead to liver failure.

Cholera: Usually spread through food or water contaminated by Vibrio cholerae.

Typhoid: An infectious disease caused by food and drink contaminated with Salmonella typhi.


  1. Always wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet
  2. Drink only boiled water or bottled drinks from reputable companies
  3. Do not eat peeled fruits and unwashed vegetables
  4. Avoid eating undercooked seafood
  5. Avoid drinks with ice cubes
  6. Do not eat from unlicensed food stalls
  7. Get vaccinated


Hepatitis B

The virus exists in the patient's blood and body fluids, and transmit by below ways :

  • Sexual behaviour
  • Blood exposure: Direct contact with the patient's blood, sharing personal products, such as toothbrushes, razors, shaver and nail clippers; or sharing contaminated syringes; or piercing earrings, tattooing or acupuncture, etc., can also be infected by contaminated tools; or ransfusion of infected blood or other blood products.
  • Mother to baby during childbirth.


  1. Avoid sharing personal products.
  2. In case of a bleeding accident, clean the wound, and consult a doctor for appropriate treatment, such as a blood test.
  3. Wear rubber gloves when touching the patient's blood or body fluids.
  4. Clean contaminated items with 1:99 diluted bleach.
  5. Before sexual intercourse, safety measures should be taken.
  6. Vaccination against hepatitis B.

Dengue/Malaria/Yellow Fever

Dengue: A mosquito-borne disease, there is a slight chance of mother-to-child transmission of the dengue virus from a pregnant mother to her baby. It is mainly concentrated in tropical and subtropical countries where Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) are distributed, including Hong Kong.

Malaria: Mainly transmitted by mosquitoes, high-risk places such as Cambodia, India, Africa and other places.

Yellow fever: Mainly transmitted by mosquitoes, high-risk areas such as Africa.


  1. Take anti-mosquito measures, such as long-sleeved clothing and trousers, anti-mosquito spray, mosquito nets, etc.
  2. There should be mosquito nets and anti-mosquito nets in the accommodation.
  3. Pregnant women should try to avoid travelling here.
  4. Consult a doctor and prescribe medicines to prevent malaria two weeks before departure.
  5. To prevent yellow fever, you need to be vaccinated one month before departure.


The virus exists in the patient's blood and body fluids, and it can be transmitted through:

  • Sexual behaviour.
  • Sharing personal products and syringes.
  • Mother-to-baby contact: pregnancy, childbirth, breast-feeding and other intimate relationships.
  • Contaminated blood and blood products


  1. Avoid sharing personal hygiene products and syringes.
  2. Safe sex practices.
  3. If you have multiple sexual partners, you should take regular HIV tests. If you are unfortunately infected, you should receive appropriate treatment as soon as possible.

Encephalitis/ Meningitis

Encephalitis or Meningitis is caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and Neisseria meningitidis. It is spread by the droplets produced when the patient coughs and sneezes, by close contact with the patient, and by touching contaminated items. When the bacteria invade the lining of the blood, brain and spinal cord, it can cause severe symptoms or even death.


  1. Keep your hands clean and avoid going to crowded public places.
  2. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, wrap your sputum in a tissue and put it in a covered trash can.
  3. Before departure, you should consult a doctor for preventive vaccination. If you travel to swampy areas, you should be vaccinated against meningococcus.
  4. Mainland China has included meningococcus in the national injection plan. If you have to travel there frequently or having a long stay, you should get vaccinated as soon as possible to avoid infection.


Mpox (also known as monkeypox) is a zoonosis caused by monkeypox virus. Infection could occur when a person comes into contact with the virus from infected animals, infected humans or contaminated materials. Humans could get infected from various wild animals, such as some species of primates, rodents and squirrels, etc., through bite or scratch, or direct contact with their body fluids. Human-to-human transmission is also possible through respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact or direct contact with body fluids.


To reduce the risk of infection, members of the public travelling to places affected by monkeypox virus should:

  • Avoid close, skin-to-skin contact with sick people or people with a rash that looks like mpox;
  • Avoid contact with objects and materials that a person with mpox has used, such as eating utensils or cups, bedding, towels, or clothing;
  • Avoid contact with sick or dead animals;
  • Implement appropriate infection control precautions when taking care of ill people or handling animals, such as wearing protective clothing and equipment including gloves and surgical masks;
  • Maintain hand hygiene. Clean hands with liquid soap and water when they are visibly soiled or likely contaminated with blood and body fluid. When hands are not visibly soiled, they could be cleaned with 70-80% alcohol-based handrub;
  • Thoroughly cook all animal products before eating

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