Health Advice

for Travellers

Swiss Expert Committee for Travel Medicine
Australia

Australia

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.

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Dengue can occur in Queensland or on the Cocoseilande (Throat Islands). 

  • Dengue is a viral diseases transmitted by mosquitoes that bite during daytime.
  • As a prevention measure, great attention should be given to protection from mosquito bites.
  • There is neither a vaccination nor a specific medication against dengue for travellers.
  • In case of fever: do not use acetylsalicylic acid (e.g. Aspirin®, Alcacyl®, Aspégic®) as this can worsen bleeding in case of dengue infection.
  • Read the following information for optimal travel preparation.

Distribution of dengue, see DENGUE MAP

  • Dengue fever is the world's most common insect-borne infectious disease.
  • Great attention should be paid to mosquito protection during the day!
  • The disease can cause high fever, muscle and joint pain, and skin rashes. In rare cases, bleeding may occur. There is no specific treatment.
  • For personal safety, we strongly recommend that you inform yourself in detail about dengue.

Dengue fever is the most common insect-borne infectious disease worldwide. There are 4 known serotypes of dengue virus, so it is possible to be infected with dengue more than once. Approximately 1 in 4 infected individuals develop symptoms of dengue, resulting in high fever, muscle and joint pain, and skin rash. In rare cases, most often after a second infection, life-threatening bleeding and shock (severe drop of blood pressure) may occur.

Dengue fever occurs in all tropical and subtropical regions between latitudes 35°N and 35°S (see also CDC map: https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/areaswithrisk/around-the-world.html).

Dengue virus is transmitted mainly by day- and dusk-active mosquitoes, namely Stegomyia (Aedes) aegypti and Stegomyia (Aedes) albopictus. These mosquitoes breed in small water puddles, as they are often found around residential buildings or at industrial zones / waste dumps of human settlements. The main transmission season is the rainy season.

In 3 out of 4 cases, an infection with the virus remains asymptomatic. After a short incubation period (5-8 days), 1 out of 4 infected people present an abrupt onset of fever, headache, joint, limb and muscle pain, as well as nausea and vomiting. Eye movement pain is also typical. A rash usually appears on the 3rd or 4th day of illness. After 4 to 7 days, the fever finally subsides but fatigue may persist for several days or weeks.

In rare cases, severe dengue can occur. Particularly susceptible are local children and seniors as well as people who have experienced a prior dengue infection. Tourists extremely rarely present with severe dengue. In the first days, the disease resembles the course of classic dengue fever, but on the 4th/5th day, and usually after the fever has subsided, the condition worsens. Blood pressure drops, and patients complain of shortness of breath, abdominal discomfort, nosebleeds, and mild skin or mucosal hemorrhages. In the most severe cases, life-threatening shock may occur.

There is no specific treatment for dengue virus infection. Treatment is limited to mitigation and monitoring of symptoms: fever reduction, relief of eye, back, muscle and joint pain, and monitoring of blood clotting and blood volume. Patients with severe symptoms must be hospitalised.

For treatment of fever or pain, paracetamol or acetaminophen are recommended (e.g. Acetalgin® Dafalgan®). Drugs containing the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid (e.g. Aspirin®, Alcacyl®, Aspégic®) must be avoided.

Effective mosquito protection during the day and especially during twilight hours (i.e. sunset) is the best preventive measure:

  1. Clothing: Wear well-covering, long-sleeved clothing and long pants and spray clothing with insecticide beforehand (see factsheet “prevention of arthropod bites”)
  2. Mosquito repellent: Apply a mosquito repellent to uncovered skin several times a day (see factsheet “prevention of arthropod bites”)
  3. Environmental hygiene: Do not leave containers with standing water (coasters for flower pots, etc.) in your environment to avoid mosquito breeding sites.

No vaccination against dengue virus is currently available for travellers.

Do not take any products containing the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid (e.g. Aspirin®, Alcacyl®, Aspégic®) if you have symptoms, as they may increase the risk of bleeding in the event of a severe dengue infection!

Dengue Map (Center for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/areaswithrisk/around-the-world.html 

  • 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.

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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.

  • 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".

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Viral infections transmitted by mosquitoes - protection through mosquito bite prevention

Vaccinations

Vaccination recommended according to Swiss recommendations.

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:

There is no risk of yellow fever in this country, however, there is an entry requirement of the country, see below.

  • Vaccination is mandatory for entry within 6 days from a yellow fever endemic area (not for airport transit there). 

  • All travellers to yellow fever endemic countries should be vaccinated against yellow fever (even if vaccination is not mandatory in the country). A booster single booster dose is recommended for immuncompetent persons after 10 years.
  • The yellow fever vaccination must be administered by an authorized doctor or center at least ten days before your arrival in the destination country with record in the yellow vaccination booklet ('International Certificate for Vaccination’).
  • For travellers who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or who have a condition that leads to immunosuppression, please consult a travel health advisor.

  • Yellow fever occurs in sub-Saharan Africa and South America and is transmitted by mosquitoes.
  • Disease may be severe in unvaccinated travelers and death may occur in over 50%.
  • A highly effective vaccine is available.
  • Due to potentially severe side effects the vaccine is used with caution in immunocompromised or elderly individuals, as well as in pregnant women.

Yellow fever is an acute viral infection transmitted through the bite of mosquitoes. The disease occurs in sub-Saharan Africa and South America. It is a potentially lethal disease. However, the vaccination offers very high protection.

Yellow fever is endemic in countries of sub-Saharan Africa and South America, and in Panama. Transmission occurs all over the year but may peak in the rainy season. Although the same species of mosquitoes are present, yellow fever has not been found in Asia.

The yellow fever virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of infected daily active Aedes mosquitoes, or Haemagogus species mosquitoes, which are day and night active. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected primates (human or non-human) and then can transmit the virus to other primates (human or non-human). Yellow fever transmission and epidemics are facilitated by the interface of jungle, savannah and urban areas. Humans working in the jungle can acquire the virus and become ill. The virus then can be brought to urban settings by infected individuals and may be transmitted to other people.

Most people infected with yellow fever virus have mild or no symptoms and recover completely. Some people will develop yellow fever illness with onset of symptoms typically 3 to 6 days after infection. Symptoms are unspecific and flu-like (fever, chills, head and body pain). After a brief remission, about 10-20% will develop more severe disease. Severe disease is characterized by high fever, yellow skin and eyes, bleeding, shock and organ failure. About 30 to 60% of patients with severe disease die.

There is no specific medication. Treatment is only supportive and consists of providing fluid and lowering fever. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for example ibuprofen or naproxen, should be avoided due to the risk of enhanced bleeding.

As against all mosquito-borne diseases, prevention from mosquito bites is during day and night (see “Insect and tick bite protection” factsheet). The available vaccine is highly efficacious and provides a long-term protection. It is recommended for people aged 9 months or older who are travelling to yellow fever endemic areas. In addition, providing proof of vaccination may be mandatory for entry into certain countries.

The vaccine is a live-attenuated form of the virus. In immunocompetent persons, protection starts about 10 days after the first vaccination. Reactions to yellow fever vaccine are generally mild and include headache, muscle aches, and low-grade fevers.  Side effects can be treated with paracetamol but aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for example ibuprofen or naproxen, should be avoided.  On extremely rare occasions, people may develop severe, sometimes life-threatening reactions to the yellow fever vaccine – which is why this vaccine is used with caution in immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women and the elderly for safety reasons. Talk to your travel health advisor if you belong to this group.

In 2016, WHO changed from yellow fever booster doses every 10 years to a single dose, which is considered to confer life-long protection. However, this decision was based on limited data and mainly from endemic populations, potentially exposed to natural boosters (through contact with infected mosquitoes), which does not apply to travellers from non-endemic regions. As several experts have raised concerns about the WHO single dose strategy, the Swiss Expert Committee for Travel Medicine recommends a single booster dose ≥10 years (max. 2 doses per life-time) in immunocompetent persons after primo-vaccination before considering life-long immunity.

Yellow Fever Map - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/yellowfever/maps/index.html 
Yellow Fever Info - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/yellowfever/index.html 
Yellow Fever Info - European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/yellow-fever/facts 

  • 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).

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  • 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.

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Japanese encephalitis occurs in this country. The affected areas are the Torres Strait Islands and Cape York Peninsula in north eastern Australia. Human cases are rarely reported.

  • The risk of Japanese encephalitis is very low for travellers.
  • Follow diligent mosquito bite prevention measures in the evening and night.
  • A safe and effective vaccine is available that is recommended for high-risk travellers such as.
    • Work / extensive outdoor activities in rural areas.
    • Long-term stays (>4 weeks) or during an ongoing outbreak

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