Health Advice

for Travellers

Swiss Expert Committee for Travel Medicine
Morocco

Morocco

General Information

  • Avoid all non-essential travel
  • If travel is unavoidable: get full COVID-19 vaccination protection before travel and adhere strictly to the recommendations and regulations of your host country
  • Check entry requirements of destination country (see regulary updated COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map of IATA: LINK)
  • Check the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) requirements for return to Switzerland from your travel destination (see LINK)

Detailed information by diseases (key aspects | maps | fact sheets etc.) are primary included in the section 'important health risks' otherwise to be found under the respective vaccination.

Important health risks

  • Covid-19 is a disease that affects the whole body, but mainly shows with respiratory symptoms such as cough and difficulty in breathing. It is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • The infection is mainly spread through respiratory droplets and possibly aerosols when infected persons cough, sneeze, speak or sing without wearing a mask.
  • The infection can be prevented very effectively by vaccination and an increasing number of vaccines are now approved and available for protection.
  • Furthermore, prevention relies heavily on people wearing face masks, on hand hygiene and on physical distancing (min. 1.5 m) if masks are not worn and people are not vaccinated.

Under construction

Under construction

  • Rabies is mainly transmitted through the saliva or other body fluids of dogs (and bats), but any mammal can be infectious.
  • Rabies is invariably fatal once symptoms occur.
  • The only way to prevent death is pre-travel vaccination or immediate wound cleaning and immunizing after exposure.
  • In many countries vaccines and immunoglobulins are often unavailable.
  • Rabies is best prevented by pre-exposure vaccination that is highly recommended for
    • long-term stay in endemic countries,
    • short journeys with high individual risk such as travellers on ‘two wheels’ or treks in remote areas, toddlers and children up to 8 years of age,
    • professionals working with animals, or cave explorers (bats!).
  • For optimal travel preparation, we recommend that you read the below mentioned information carefully and take the fact sheet on your trip!

Under construction

This fact sheet contains important information about rabies. For optimal travel preparation, we recommend that you read this information carefully and take the fact sheet on your trip!

  • Rabies is mainly transmitted through the saliva or other body fluids of dogs (and bats), but any mammal can be infectious.
  • Rabies is invariably fatal once symptoms occur.
  • The only way to prevent death is pre-travel vaccination or immediate wound cleaning and immunizing after exposure.
  • In many countries vaccines and immunoglobulins are often unavailable.
  • Rabies is best prevented by pre-exposure vaccination that is highly recommended for
    • long-term stay in endemic countries,
    • short journeys with high individual risk such as travellers on ‘two wheels’ or treks in remote areas, toddlers and children up to 8 years of age,
    • professionals working with animals, or cave explorers (bats!).

Dogs are responsible for more than 95% of human cases. Bats (Latin America), cats, and (rarely) monkeys, predators, and other mammals can transmit rabies. The highest risk areas are Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and some Latin American countries (e.g. Bolivia). Rabies may occur anywhere in the world, except in countries where successful eradication has been achieved.

Bleeding scratch injuries, licks over injured skin, bites by infected animals: when saliva or other body fluids of infected animals enter the human body, the rabies virus multiplies at the site of entry and later spreads to the peripheral nerves and eventually moves to the central nervous system. Once it has reached the brain, the infection is invariably fatal.

When symptoms such as abnormal skin sensation, paralysis, or hydrophobia (fear of water) appear at 2-12 weeks after contact (range: 4 days-4 years!), the point of no return is reached, and the disease is fatal. Therefore, vaccination before exposure and immediate action after contact are crucial.

No reliable treatment of rabies disease exists!

Post-exposure measures:

  • Immediate cleaning of the wound with plenty of water and soap for 10-15 minutes, followed by disinfection (e.g. Betadine, Merfen) and emergency post-exposure vaccination at the nearest health institution within 24 hours.
  • Tetanus booster vaccination is also required.
  • For those having received full pre-exposure rabies vaccination before travel: two additional vaccine shots (any available brand) at an interval of 3 days suffice.
  • If full pre-exposure vaccination has not been given, in addition to vaccination, passive immunization is required with immunoglobulins.
  • It should be noted that immunoglobins (and sometimes vaccines) are often unavailable in low-resource settings, causing stress and uncertainty.

Stroking cute pets is not a good idea; refrain from touching wild or unfamiliar or dead animals.
All travellers to places where rabies may occur and who are likely to take repeated trips to areas where rabies occurs should have a pre-exposure vaccination. In addition, pre-exposure vaccination is highly recommended for travellers at particular risk:

  • long-term stay in endemic countries,
  • short journeys with high individual risk such as travellers on ‘two wheels’ or treks in remote areas, toddlers and children up to 8 years of age,
  • professionals working with animals, or cave explorers (bats!).

The shortened vaccination schedule can be proposed to most travellers: 2 shots, the first one at one month before departure if possible (minimum: 8 days before departure). A single third rabies booster vaccination is recommended before the next trip, at least after one year.

  • Obtain information about prevention of rabies in time before travelling.
  • In case of trips planned for longer than a few weeks, schedule a visit at the travel clinic 4 weeks before departure at the latest.
  • After possible exposure (bite, scratch injury) wound treatment and additional vaccinations are necessary even for those with a completed series of basic vaccinations.
  • This information leaflet should be printed and kept handy during the trip!

There is a risk of arthropod-borne diseases other than malaria, dengue, chikungunya or zika in sub-/tropical regions, and some areas of Southern Europe. These include the following diseases [and their vectors]:

  • in Europe
    • Borreliosis, FSME (= tick-borne encephalitis), rickettsiosis [ticks]
    • Leishmaniasis [sand flies]
    • West-Nile fever [mosquitoes]
  • in Africa
    • Rickettsiosis, in particular African tick bite fever [ticks]
    • Leishmaniasis [sand flies]
    • African trypanosomiasis =sleeping sickness [tsetse flies]
    • West-Nile fever [mosquitoes]
  • in Asia 
    • Scrub typhus [mites]
    • Rickettsiosis [fleas or ticks]
    • Leishmaniasis [sand flies]
    • West-Nile fever [mosquitoes]
    • Crimea-Congo-hemorrhagic fever [ticks]
  • in North and Latin America  
    • Rickettsioses and in particular Rocky Mountain spotted fever [ticks]
    • Leishmaniasis and Carrion's disease [sand flies]
    • American trypanosomiasis = Chagas disease [triatomine bugs]
    • West Nile fever [mosquitoes)]

Read the following factsheet for more information.

Under construction

Under construction

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are a group of viral, bacterial and parasitic infections; while many are treatable, some can lead to complications, serious illness or chronic infection.
  • STIs are increasing worldwide.
  • Read the following fact sheet for more information.

Under construction

  • Altitude sickness may be experienced in areas above 2500 meters.
  • People differ in their susceptibility to altitude sickness; this is not related to their physical fitness.
  • Young people are generally more susceptible to altitude sickness than older people.
  • Severe altitude sickness with fluid accumulation in the brain or lungs can rapidly result in death.
  • Read the following information when planning high altitude mountain hikes.

  • If you are planning a trip above 2500m, we strongly recommend for your own safety that you read this factsheet and carry it with you on the trip.

  • There are other important travel related health risks such as diarrhoea, road traffic accidents, air pollution and more.
  • For more information, see the section "Healthy Travelling".

Vaccinations

Vaccination recommended according to Swiss recommendations.

  • Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all travellers going to tropical or subtropical countries.

Under construction

Under construction

All travellers should have completed a primary vaccination course and boosters according to the Swiss vaccination schedule to prevent the following conditions:

  • Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis-polio
  • Measles-mumps-rubella

Travellers should be immune to chickenpox. Persons between 11 and 40 years of age who have not had chickenpox should be vaccinated (2 doses with minimum interval of 4-6 weeks)

In special situations, additional vaccinations are recommended or mandatory. Discuss with your doctor whether one of the following vaccinations is recommended for you:

  • Hepatitis B is a viral liver infection that is transmitted via contaminated blood or via sexual contact.
  • A safe and very effective vaccine is available that affords life-long protection.
  • Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all young people and at-risk travellers, especially if:
    • You travel regularly or spend long periods of time abroad.
    • You are at risk of practicing unsafe sex.
    • You might undergo medical or dental treatment abroad, or undertake activities that may put you at risk of acquiring hepatitis B (tattoos, piercing, acupuncture in unsafe conditions).

Under construction

Under construction

  • Rabies is a viral infection that is mainly transmitted by dogs (and bats), but any mammal can be infectious. Infection occurs via contact with the saliva of an infected mammal.
  • It is invariably fatal at the time when symptoms occur.
  • The only way to prevent death is pre-travel vaccination or immediate wound cleaning and immunizing after a contact in countries where vaccines and immunoglobulins are often difficult to get.
  • Rabies is best prevented by pre-exposure vaccination. This is highly recommended for
    • long-term stay in endemic countries,
    • short journeys with high individual risk such as travellers on ‘two wheels’ or treks in remote areas  or travel with toddlers and children up to 8 years,
    • professional work with animals or cave explorers (bats!).

  • Typhoid fever is a serious disease that is caused by bacteria and transmitted through contaminated food or water.
  • The risk is very low for travellers who have access to safe food and drinks.
  • The best protection against typhoid fever is to follow optimal basic hygiene.
  • A vaccination against typhoid is available that is recommended in following circumstances
    • Visit to an area with poor hygienic conditions (e.g. travelling to rural areas)
    • Short stay (>1 week) in a high-risk (hyper-endemic) country (see country page)
    • long-term stays (> 4 weeks) in an endemic country
    • Presence of individual risk factors or pre-existing health conditions. In that case, please talk to your health advisor.

Under construction

  • Typhoid fever, also called enteric fever, is caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi and Salmonella Paratyphi.
  • Infected persons shed the bacteria in their feces. In countries with low sanitation standards, the bacteria can then enter the drinking water system and lead to infections in other people.
  • Frequent sources of infection are contaminated food and beverages.
  • The main preventive measure therefore is “cook it, peel it, boil it or forget it” – meaning: avoid drinking uncooked water or water from unsealed bottles; avoid cooled/frozen products (e.g. ice cubes in drinks, ice cream) unless from a known safe source; avoid uncooked vegetables, peel and clean fruit and vegetables yourself and only with known safe drinking water.
  • A vaccine is available and recommended: a) for travelers to the Indian subcontinent or to West Africa, b) for travelers visiting friends and relatives or for long-term travelers also to other sub-/tropical areas.

Typhoid fever is a bacterial disease that affects the whole body and mainly presents with high fever, often accompanied by drowsiness (“typhos” in Greek stands for delirium) and severe headaches. If the infection is treated with appropriate antibiotics, mortality is very low. If left untreated however, complications may follow, which can lead to significant mortality. Typhoid fever must be clearly distinguished from salmonellosis, caused by a large range of non-typhoidal salmonella species that mainly cause benign diarrheal symptoms worldwide.

The highest occurrence of typhoid fever is on the Indian subcontinent (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, India and Bangladesh). This is also the region with a steady increase in antibiotic resistance. The disease also occurs in the whole sub-/tropical region, but with lower frequency. It used to occur also in Europe and North America, but the disease has disappeared thanks to improved water and sanitation standards.

Typhoid fever is transmitted via the fecal-oral route: bacteria are shed in the feces of infected persons and – if insufficient hand hygiene is practiced – infected persons may contaminate the food and drinking water supply of their families. In regions with low sanitation standards, contaminated feces may also contaminate the public drinking water supply.

The incubation period – time between infection and first symptoms – can vary between 3 days to 3 weeks. The principle symptom of typhoid fever is high-grade fever (39° - 41° C) accompanied by strong headache and drowsiness. In the initial phase of the disease, patients often complain of constipation. In later stages, this may turn into diarrhea. In later stages of the disease – and in the absence of correct treatment – complications such as septicemia, intestinal hemorrhage or perforation can follow, which may lead to considerable mortality.

Appropriate antibiotic treatment cures typhoid fever. Treatment should be adapted according to the resistance profile of the bacteria. On the Indian subcontinent, some strains may be multi-resistant, necessitating broad-spectrum intravenous antibiotic treatment. In severe typhoid fever with reduced consciousness (delirium) or coma, treatment with corticosteroids may need to be added.

“Cook it, boil it, peel it or forget it” – this simple slogan would be sufficient to prevent typhoid fever nearly entirely. However, only few travelers fully adhere to this advice. Nevertheless, the value of food and water hygiene cannot be stressed enough: avoid buying water bottles without proper sealing, avoid drinking tap water from unknown sources, avoid eating cooled / frozen foods (i.e. ice cubes in water or ice cream) and avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables that you yourself have not peeled and washed with clean drinking water.

Two types of vaccines are available:

  • Oral (live) vaccine consisting of three capsules to be taken on alternate days on empty stomach. These capsules require refrigeration before use. Protection from this vaccine is approximately 70% and starts 10 days after the third dose. After 1 to 3 years, the vaccine needs to be taken again before a new travel into at-risk areas. This vaccine cannot be given to patients with a severe chronic gastrointestinal disease (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) or with severe immunosuppression.
  • The single-dose vaccine is an inactivated vaccine and is injected intramuscularly. Protection also reaches around 70% and starts 14 days after the injection. This vaccine can be given to patients who should not take the oral vaccine. However, it is not registered in Switzerland, but most doctors with specialization in tropical and travel medicine and all travel health centres have the vaccine on stock. Duration of protection is around 3 years.

Vaccination against typhoid fever is advised for long-term travelers and for travelers visiting areas where the risk of transmission is particularly high and/or the disease more difficult to treat due to severe antibiotic resistance.

  • Influenza is common all over the world including sub-tropical and tropical countries.
  • Vaccination offers the best protection. 
  • Vaccination against flu is recommended for all travellers who belong to an “at risk” group such as pregnant travellers, travellers with comorbidities, elderly people (>65 years), or who plan a a high-risk trip (e.g. cruise-ship, pilgrimage).
  • The influenza vaccine does not offer protection against avian flu.

Under construction

Under construction