The CDC has issued a warning advising US residents to avoid nonessential travel to Nepal. The recent earthquake there has caused infrastructure damage which has led to problems with sanitation, clean water, and shelter. The risk of diseases spread by contaminated water and food could increase, and so will the risk of diseases caused by mosquitos. If you have to travel to Nepal because you’re a humanitarian aid worker, you can protect yourself by following some precautions.
Before you go
There are several vaccinations you should receive before you travel to Nepal. You should go to your doctor at least 6 weeks before you travel to receive several doses of the Japanese encephalitis vaccine.
Another vaccine you should have is against typhoid fever. The vaccine is not completely effective, so you have to be careful of contaminated products. Avoid ice cubes, tap and well water, and drink carbonated bottle water. Be sure your food is properly cooked, and only eat fruits and veggies washed with clean water, or those you have peeled yourself. Avoid dishes made with monkeys and bats. Wash your hand with soap, or an alcohol based sanitizer.
You should be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
A rabies vaccine is recommended if you will be in Nepal for a long time.
Before, during, and after you travel to Nepal, you’re advised to take anti-malaria drugs.
While you’re there
You should also try to protect yourself against mosquitos that spread diseases by wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants, and a hat. Use insect repellants with DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, Picaridin, and IR3535. If you use sunscreen, apply it before the above products. Wear permethrin-treated clothing, and use a bed net when you sleep.
Avoid floodwaters, and wear protective shoes if you have to wade through contaminated water.
If you have to clean out a building, wear an N-95 respirator, gloves, and goggles.
Seek medical help if you feel sick. When you return form Nepal, recall that you have to keep taking anti-malaria medication. If you feel sick at home, go to a doctor who specializes in travel medicne.
The best way to protect yourself if you have to go to Nepal include obtaining the right vaccinations, practising good hygiene, avoiding contaminated water and food, and wearing protective gear.