Health ProtectionWildlife travellers to India should start with
long-term basic health protection. This means vaccinations against Polio,
Tetanus, Typhoid, Malaria, Cholera and Hepatitis A. Other vaccinations will
depend on where you are going, local conditions at that time, and your
Consult a health specialist or a travel
advisory service and start early, a series of jabs may take up to six weeks
to complete, so get on with it! Check with us for the latest news.
Food and DrinkWater:While
in India avoid drinking or even brushing your teeth with tap water
(particularly when you are on-board a train). Drink bottled water and check
that the cap is securely sealed when you buy it. Turning it upside down and
watching for drips is one method of checking. If you do buy it dispose it
If you can't buy it, sterilize it by boiling or dropping
in purification tablets or iodine.
Do not take ice in your drinks,
unless it is clearly frozen mineral water or boiled and filtered water.
Tea, coffee, soft drinks and booze are fine from a bacterial point of
view, though not so fine from a dehydration standpoint.
water bottles with other travellers unless you want to share their bugs too.
filters are ok in theory but can break easily and usually don't filter some
serious viruses, such as Hepatitis A and E.
Food: Avoid ice
cream from dodgy sources, raw fish, food kept warm, salads and uncooked food
- unless you can peel it or shell it yourself. Most cases of rampant
diarrhoea come from unhygienic food, not unclean water. However in many
resorts in India the vegetables would be farm fresh. Do not miss out on
Eating in local restaurants in developing
1] Start acclimatising your intestines slowly. e.g. First
day, don't eat street. Second day, try a small well-cooked snack. etc.
Eat where it's busy. This means that turnover is fast so fresh food has less
chance to go off in a hot climate [with little or no refrigeration]. It also
means that the food is good or cheap or both!
speaking the South Indian food is simpler and less oily compared to North
Indian food. Incase you are eating from road-side a simple way to be safe is
to wash the plates with hot water.
Suffering Delhi - Belly?aka
diarrhoea...If there is time, do the natural cure:
Drink a lot of clean
water. For maximum absorption of water generally, add 1/2 a teaspoon of salt
and 3 teaspoons of sugar to a litre [2 quarts] of water, and in the case of
Delhi-belly double the salt and sugar levels. [Don't take salt tablets; they
can cause stomach irritation and vomiting]. Don't eat for half a day at
least, and then restart solids slowly, with plain, easily digested foods
such as boiled, watery rice or plain bread. This will encourage your body to
develop a stronger health defence system.
If you're in a hurry
Lomotil or similar works well - but doesn't kill the bug; it just stops your
insides turning to water every thirty minutes.
SicknessOtherwise known as AMS, Acute Mountain Sickness it is possible
to suffer from it if you are traveling to Tibet or Sikkim. The problem is
lack of oxygen and is especially relevant to smokers and those with heart
Stage: dizziness, nausea,
headaches, insomnia, breathlessness, and loss of appetite. Cure: rest, eat
well, drink lots of water and don't ascend further. You'll be fine in a
couple of days. probably.
Stage 2: dry cough, vomiting, confusion,
loss of balance and co-ordination. Pulmonary oedema.
AMS comes on slowly - over a day or two days so descend! or see a doctor for
a] ascend slowly e.g.. In the
case of Tibet, go to Manali and walk around Lamadukh for 2/3 days before
Barlachla or Taklangla.
b] get fit.
c] get a prescription for
acetazolamide[diamox] and start taking it before the trip.
homoeopathic health advisors suggest taking aconite 6c to treat initial
symptoms and arsenicum album 6c for further help. Both together is fine, x 4
per day, Amax 4 doses. An iron supplement, Floridax, and/or ginkgo biloba,
taken daily for 2 weeks before travel are also supposed to help.
is sensible to buy insurance while you are traveling in India. It makes more
sense to be careful. Unfortunately we cannot sell you insurance but we would
be very happy to provide free and sensible advice on the same if you require
that from us.
tan is a great thing to have but there is no point in lying around in the
sun at midday in the tropics or subtropics. This will not only earn you a
good chance in the melanoma lottery and add an unpleasant red highlight to
your tan, but it will probably burn the tan off altogether after a few days
will brown up more smoothly and lastingly by sunbathing [if you must] before
11am and after 3pm. And you may live longer too.
Don't go in the sun in
the middle of the day, and be especially careful when swimming, snorkelling
[wear a T shirt], motor-biking, and getting wrecked on the beach.
yourself to drink water, lots of it, if you want to avoid headaches and
lethargy from dehydration. Contrary to popular opinion beer will have the
opposite effect by dehydrating you even more. Also while on safari be
careful about heat-stroke particularly in the middle of the day when
prudence is to take the shade.
Water requirements in tropical
environment are at least 12 glasses a day.
p.s. Recent research
in the US suggests that skin care products containing AHAs [alpha hydroxy
acids] increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight in some cases, so be
particularly careful about applying sun protection if there are AHAs in your
choice of skin creams.
Malignant Melanoma signs:
existing mole is getting larger or a new one growing
- A mole has a
- A mole has a mixture of brown/black colours
Non-melanoma skin cancer signs:
- A new growth or sore does not heal
within 4 weeks
- A spot or scab continues to itch, hurt or bleed
Skin ulcers persist without apparent reason
Source: Cancer Reaserch -
B:.A highly infectious disease, which can permanently damage the liver.
It can be transmitted during sex or via dirty needles [including blood
transfusions]. The incubation period is 2-6 months, plenty of time for you
to pass it on to others unknowingly. You can be immunised against it.
Condoms give good, though not perfect protection.
Over half of UK cases - many heterosexual - acquired the disease abroad.
It causes more deaths than malaria. The incubation period could be years and
even tests take up to 6 months, plenty of time for you to pass it on to
others unknowingly. Condoms give good, though not perfect protection.
is at large over certain parts of India.
The best way to avoid
malaria [not to mention rarer but equally unpleasant health threats such as
Encephalitis, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, Rift Valley fever and more] is to
keep the little beggars off you.
Anopheles mosquitoes - the ones
that transmit malaria - fly from dusk to dawn, so prepare yourself for this
whining and dining time.
The Aedes mosquito, responsible for
Yellow and Dengue Fever, flies during the day too, so in Dengue danger areas
all day protection will be necessary.
Indoors the best thing is
use a repellent as long as you are not allergic to them. In extremis spray
the room with [esp. pyrethrum] insecticide, if it has window nets or air
Electric anti-mosquito mats are preferable for all-night
protection rather than smouldering coils, as coils tend to run out before
dawn, and are smelly, unhealthy devices anyway.
When travelling in more
primitive surroundings, sleep under a net, and if you have a past history
treat the net with a standard repellent if possible.
wear light colours - mosquitoes know their camouflage - long trousers and
Take especial care of bare ankles underneath
restaurant tables; it's the mosquito's favourite dining area. And they'll
get you through thin clothes too, so apply repellent to thin fabrics in key
places e.g. socks, T-shirt shoulders.
Avoid wearing perfumes and
shower off your body odour as soon as you can, as mosquitoes use smell to
track their victims.
If you get bitten and the spot is itchy, try
'ironing' it with a hot cup of tea or coffee - it will magically disappear
for ever! Alternatively squeeze lemon juice onto it.
India is still at its infancy when it comes to anti
mosquito lotions. So bring some with you or use odomos, which doesn't stink
Some of the good ones are
relatively natural [citrodiol and eucalyptus] and often very effective, so
starting with that and saving the Deet for heavy duty mozzie attacks is
-NeemCare Herbal Insect Repellent. Neem tree oil is
used in Ayurvedic medicine and is burned in India to repel insects.
can buy Neem Oil and apply it regularly to give you a natural guard - 24
-Refined lemon eucalyptus oil, lavender oil and citronella
oil, all of which are disliked by insects; but don't forget to dilute them
with some -kind of carrier oil, such a sunflower or sesame. Alternatively
bath or shower with lemon gel.
- Vitamin B1. Consistant anecdotal
evidence suggests that mozzies hate the smell of this vitamin. Take 100mg a
day, starting a few days before your trip.
- Electric 'vape' mats
work well in rooms, are relatively inoffensive and last longer than coils,
but check local voltage and socket type.
- Electronic buzzers/sonic
deterrents do not work as far as we know.
Malaria - Treatments
and Prophylactics [Preventative Medicines]: Some preventatives can be
ineffective, while others can instigate health problems - making you
nauseous or turning you into quivering, psychotic jelly. Many experienced
travellers only use chemicals in high-risk areas, but the choice is yours.
Chloroquine and proguanil [Paludrine], or mefloquine [Lariam]
Malarone if available, or perhaps Mefloquine[Larium] is
advisable in high risk zones. Malarone [atovaquene], as effective as Larium
[i.e. nearly 100%] but no psychological side-effects. Also you only need to
take it for only 7 days after leaving a malaria zone, as opposed to 28 days
In UK it's available on prescription at BA travel clinics
when there is a specific health need.
- Doxycycline, an antibiotic
[for treatment of chest and other infections], is widely used as a malaria
It's effective and especially popular in the Far East,
e.g. Thailand and Laos. However it makes the skin sensitive to sunshine so
it's not good for beach holidays.
It needs to be taken with plenty
of water to prevent it sticking in the throat, and you should consume
probiotics of some sort to restore healthy bacteria to your system - yoghurt
or some other dairy products for example.
care that health problems such as fever or flu-like illness developing up to
1 year after travel is not put down to flu.
Clearly inform your doctor
of the possibility of malaria.
Symptoms: From infection to
symptoms generally takes 1- 4 weeks, but can take up to one year. Initial
symptoms in adults: flu-like illness, weakness, dizziness, headache, fever,
muscular pains, vomiting, diarrhoea.
Initial symptoms in children:
any of the above plus convulsions, coughing and rapid shallow breathing.
symptoms: muscle spasms [including face], jaundice [yellow skin and eyes],
kidney failure, rapid shallow breathing, convulsions, coma.
Pregnant women are at increased health risk of contracting severe malaria,
which can also damage the foetus.
Jet lag depends on
the number of time zones crossed rather than the length of the flight. The
body clock gets out of sync with destination time, leading to
disorientation, disturbed sleep, irritation, dizziness and general
depression. It's especially bad when flying east. Aalso in a few cases you
will be driving in the wild on your day of arrival. You are advised to skip
this if you are prone to jet lag.
Prevention and Cures for Jet
Eat a light meal containing plenty of carbohydrates and greens
Try to arrive well rested and healthy at your
Try to get a flight with no/few stops as the changing
cabin pressure exacerbates jet lag.
Set your watch to destination time
as soon as you board the plane.
A homeopathic remedy for jet lag is
Leeches can be a problem in a few places in India
(in particular Western Ghats and North-East). They are not known to transmit
diseases but are a nuisance, as the ensuing bleeding can be difficult to
stop. Coating feet or legs with Deet ensures protection for hours. Remove
leeches by applying a squirt of insect repellent or salt.
Cold and other allergies should not be taken to lightly as they ten to
become chronic and result to complications later. If you suffer from
particular types of allergies do advise us prior to our departure. Normally
the parks and the sanctuaries are in remote India where medicines may not
always be available and we advice you to carry your own medicines. Please
note that all our leaders carry a First-aid kit and are well versed with
Finally do remember to pack two slightly important
things - COMMON SENSE ( it is mighty difficult to buy) and PATIENCE