If you’re an American traveling to India, make sure that ‘a visit to the doctor’ is among the top items on you to-do list. It is always recommended to see a doctor before an overseas trip anyway. However, when travelling to the world’s second most populated country, more often than not you’ll find yourself in closer-than-desirable contact with people. This is why it is important to protect yourself from the most common diseases that spread through contact. Here’s a list of vaccinations that all US citizens should ensure before travelling to India.
Vaccines You Need before Travelling to India
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccination for the following diseases:
- Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A can spread through contaminated food and water, regardless of where you eat. According to the World Health Organization, symptoms of this disease include diarrhea, nausea, fever, fatigue and more.
Typhoid is another disease that spreads through food and water. It is highly recommended for you to plan to stay with someone you know or at a well-known hotel. Symptoms of typhoid are similar to those of Hepatitis, you can learn more about them here.
The risk of contracting cholera is limited to a few cities in India. The vaccine is mostly recommended for adults who are traveling to cities with active cholera transmission. Consumption of unsafe food and water are the main causes for cholera too, among other factors that may increase the risk of contracting this infection.
- Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is transmitted through contaminated needles, blood products and sexual contact. The vaccination is recommended for travelers who might have sex with a native or get a tattoo or piercing done or might come in contact with a needle for any other reason. The symptoms of the disease include mild ones, such as fatigue or loss of appetite, or severe ones like a web of swollen blood vessels, liver malfunction, etc.
According to an article in the Times of India, India stood third in terms of the number of malaria deaths per country in 2015. Caused by a carrier mosquito, malaria is spread very easily, especially in low-altitude areas. Medication to prevent malaria needs to be taken before, during and after your visit. More information for malaria in India can be found here.
- Japanese Encephalitis
This vaccine is required if your stay lasts longer than a month. If you plan to visit rural areas in India, you should get the vaccination for even a shorter duration. However, it might not always be necessary, so consult a doctor and share your travel plans for them to decide if you need the vaccine or not. Read about the symptoms, prevention, treatment and more of Japanese Encephalitis.
The most common carrier of rabies are dogs and you’ll find tons of them on the streets of India. A rabies shot is recommended if you are likely to be involved in outdoor activities, working around animals such as dogs, monkeys, bats, etc., or will be staying for long. The symptoms of the disease include excess salivation, muscle spasms fever, headaches, paralysis and mental confusion.
Don’t let these diseases and their symptoms scare you. With a little bit of precaution and appropriate vaccinations and medications, you’ll be just fine. India can seem a little overwhelming to an American visiting the country for the first time, but once you understand its way of life, it becomes a unique and enriching experience. So, get your shots and let your guard down to embrace this colorful nation.