Check pre-travel vaccinations, say doctors

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Number of cases of typhoid have doubled in the past five years, says Department of Health

Put pre-departure vaccinations on your travel checklist too, say doctors and tourism authorities.
With every passing year, the number of migrants and tourists to Australia is increasing. It’s a good thing for the country’s economy, but the not so bright side to it is that a large number of the travelers do not take their pre-departure vaccinations seriously resulting in a number of diseases crossing over into Australia.

One such concern is for typhoid and the Indian community is most vulnerable to it. Typhoid is a potentially dangerous bacterial disease caused from contaminated food or water. The number of cases reported to the Department of Health has doubled in the past five years.

Many of the cases are reported in the Australians of Indian descent when they return to Australia after visiting family and friends in the subcontinent. In such cases the only protection is the pre-travel vaccinations, which will not only to prevent the disease in the individuals but will also protect the general population once they return to Australia.

Before 2007, only 50-70 cases were reported in one year but the present figures are alarming as 101 cases have already been reported in 2013 so far.

While throwing light on the various factors that lead to this disease and how to deal with it, cardiologist and president, Indian Australian Association of NSW, Dr Yadu Singh, says: “People of South Asian background may not be getting sufficient vaccination while travelling to South Asia. Since they may not have sufficient immunity against various diseases, it is important to get proper vaccinations before travelling to South Asia”.

“This is very important not only for the people themselves but also for everyone else back in Australia,” he adds.
Dr Singh says that as per the data available, there were 50 to 70 cases of Typhoid a year before 2007. It went up to 135 in 2011, 123 in 2012 and 101 cases so far in 2013. “There were 32 in January alone. These are alarming numbers,” he says.

“Typhoid fever infection is spread by contaminated food and water. It can be fatal. We already know the unfortunate death of a medical student in Australia, who travelled to the Middle East and South Asia. There is a need for community awareness about vaccination prior to overseas travel,” says Dr Singh.

“Health is more important than the money one will need to spend on vaccines and travel insurance,” he says. Typhoid is vaccine preventable and prevention is particularly important with an increase in the number of antibiotic-resistant strains, he adds.

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