Tickets booked? Accommodation settled? Visa applied?

Planning for a trip can be busy and fun, but in the midst of the excitement, it is easy to forget about travel health issues. Read on to find out if you are indeed ready for your new adventures. 


To get the most out of your holiday, make sure you are in the pink of health. Speak to your doctor to find out more about:

  • Necessary vaccinations
  • Preparing your medication if you have a chronic condition
  • Packing a travel first aid kit


In our excitement, we can overlook other small but important pre-travel preparations to safeguard our health while we are overseas. Always be safe, not sorry.

  • Take time to read up about the health conditions in your destination country
  • Purchase travel insurance
  • E-register with Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Singaporeans
  • Provide a copy of your itinerary to your family
  • Prepare a health card that contains your vital information (e.g. blood group, allergies to medicines or food, vaccination record, brief medical record, names and doses of medicines (if any), name and contact number of your doctor and emergency contact)


Always be aware of your health, the risks around you, and remember to adhere to the following safety practices.

Always practise personal protection

  • Vaccinations: Take all recommended vaccinations at least two weeks before your travel 
  • Hand Hygiene: Wash your hands with soap, or use a hand sanitiser before meals and after using the toilet
  • Respiratory Hygiene: Put on mask, if where necessary
  • Bites: Take steps to protect yourself fromagainst animal and mosquito bites
  • Others:  Avoid situations that might put you at risk of contracting blood-borne diseases and sexually-transmitted infections
  • Medical advice: Seek medical treatment when experiencing the following scenarios:
    • Feel unwell
    • Bitten by an animal
    • Deep cuts
    • Suspect of contracting an infectious disease

Drink only from safe/reputable sources

  • Only drink bottled or filtered/treated water
  • Avoid ice- or ice-cream if uncertain of cleanliness of source of water
  • Avoid drinking or brushing your teeth with tap water
  • Avoid unpasteurised milk 

Boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it

  • Make sure your food is thoroughly cooked i.e. avoid undercooked meat and seafood, especially shellfish
  • Avoid salads and cut fruits if you are unsure of its freshness and cleanliness
  • Avoid street vendors, chef specials and whole-day buffets


Listed below are just some of the common diseases that you should look out for when you are overseas. If you discover that you are showing some of these symptoms, monitor your condition and consult a doctor where necessary.

Food and Water Borne Diseases

Here are some potential infections that might be contracted when food or drinks are consumed from unsafe/ unclean sources.

Disease               SymptomsWhere vaccination is needed
Travellers' DiarrhoeaContinuous diarrhoea, possibly with fever and dehydration

Vaccination prior to traveling – some diarrhoeal diseases (e.g. Typhoid) can be prevented through vaccination


Wash your hands with clean water and soap before eating

Use of hand sanitiser when soap and water are not available.


Only consume food and drinks from safe sources. Eat thoroughly cooked food. This is because raw food carries risk even if from safe sources.

Hepatitis A

Fever, nausea, fatigue, poor appetite, yellowing of eyes and skin, dark urine, pale stools

Animal and Mosquito Borne Diseases

Here are a number of diseases that are contracted when you are bitten by animals (e.g. dogs, bats) or mosquitoes that carry these viruses.

Disease                SymptomsPrevention
RabiesWeakness, discomfort, fever, headache. Can lead to confusion and abnormal behaviourAvoid being in situations where you could be at risk  of being bitten by animals. If bitten, seek medical advice immediately.
Dengue FeverFever, headache, rash, eye/joint/muscle pain

Apply insect repellent to all exposed skin

Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved clothing and long pants, especially when outdoors at night

Sleep under a mosquito net or in a room where the windows are fitted with fine wire netting

For Malaria, speak to your doctor about anti-Malaria tablets.

For Yellow Fever, check if you require yellow fever vaccination before travelling to the area.

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MalariaFever, chills, shivering, headache, tiredness, vomiting, yellowing of eyes and skin, dark urine
Yellow FeverFever, headache, vomiting, backache, yellowing of eyes and skin, bleeding of gums, blood in urine

Air Borne/ Respiratory Droplets Diseases

Here are some diseases that might be contracted if you breathe in the germs expelled by an infected persion near you or when you are in close contact with the person.

Disease                     SymptomsPrevention
MeaslesHigh fever, cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes, small white spots, diarrhoea. ear infection, bronchitis, pneumonia etc.

Vaccinations against measles and diphtheria are very important since these infections are very contagious and can lead to severe complications. If newborns have not been vaccinated as they are not eligible for the vaccinations yet, do take extra precaution during the trip   

Vaccinations against pneumococcal diseases, COVID-19, influenza, meningococcal are also highly recommended to prevent infections.

Practise good personal hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water or using a hand sanitiser

Wear a mask, if needed.

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DiphtheriaDifficulty in breathing, airway obstruction, respiratory and heart failure, paralysis etc.
Pneumococcal DiseasesInfections of lungs, blood, brain, spinal chord, middle ear
COVID-19Fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste or smell

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) / Influenza / Avian Influenza       


High fever, cough, breathing difficulty       


Meningococcal DiseaseFever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, photophobia (eyes sensitive to light), confusion.
Chickenpox   Itchy rash, conjunctival and oral lesions, fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, headache etc.Vaccination – the chickenpox vaccine is safe and effective in protecting those who have never had chickenpox



Persistent cough, weight loss, phlegm with blood

Recognise the symptoms to seek treatment early, and alert the doctor if the symptoms persist (e.g. undiagnosed cough for three weeks or more)

Remember your recent travel history especially to high-risk countries.

Blood-Borne and Sexually-transmitted Diseases

These diseases are contracted through the exchange of blood and body fluids, through (but not limited to) blood transfusions, the use of non-sterilised needles or sharp objects (e.g. tattooing, piercing) and having unprotected sex.

Disease                     SymptomsPrevention
Hepatitis B    Jaundice (yellowing eyes and skin), fever, nausea           Hepatitis B vaccination
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Fever, aching muscles and joints, sore throat, swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck   


Do not abuse drugs or share needles

Avoid casual or unprotected sex

Condoms, if used properly, can reduce the risk of getting HIV. It is advisable to bring along your own condoms

Avoid situations which can make you unconscious around strangers (e.g. drinking alcohol, drinks being spiked, alone with strangers).

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Chlamydia/ Gonorrhoea
Abnormal vaginal discharge or discharge from penis, burning sensation when urinating
Syphilis Sores at location where syphilis enter the body (can be painless), rash, fever


These diseases can be spread through contact with contaminated soil or water, especially through open wounds. 

TetanusPainful muscle contractions, particularly jaw and neck muscleVaccination is recommended
MelioidosisPain, swelling, fever, ulceration, cough, chest pain, headache etc.Avoid contact with contaminated soil or water or use protective gears to minimise risk of exposure


Seek medical attention immediately for

  • Symptoms that cannot be controlled e.g. continuous diarrhoea
  • Symptoms in young children (e.g. vomiting, diarrhoea)

If you are at the clinic or hospital, you may wish to wash your hands regularly or use your own hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol. As per local practice, you may remind the healthcare staff to practise good hand hygiene before attending to you so as to prevent spread of infectious diseases. 

For treatment to be effective, antibiotics are used to treat bacteria infections. Only consume antibiotics if prescribed by the doctor. For an effective treatment, always complete the course of antibiotics per doctor's advice.

Always maintain hydration

  • Use oral rehydration salts (sachets)
  • Make your own emergency rehydration fluids with 4 heaped teaspoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 litre of water

Activate your travel insurance if you are seriously ill and require emergency transport home for appropriate medical attention


If you have been ill during your holiday, it is good practice to return to the doctor for a thorough check-up if

  • Your symptoms persist
  • You develop symptoms within a week of returning home

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.

Read these next:


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Global Migration and Quarantine (DGMQ), Air Travel; 2011 (updated 2011, July 1). Available at:

  2. National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, Wash Your Hands (updated 2013, February 14). Available at:

  3. Travelers' Health: Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC