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Indian Ocean

Indian Ocean
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Ways to protect your health around the Indian Ocean

The idyllic tropical islands of the Indian Ocean are the perfect destination for a romantic, restful getaway. The warm coral seas also attract those in search of adventure, such as divers and sailors.

Is the tap water safe to drink on islands in the Indian Ocean?

Safe water can be a problem on some islands because of shallow aquifers and, sometimes, shortages. Be sure to take local advice and stick to sources that you know are safe. Hotels may offer filtered water, or you may prefer to drink water in factory-sealed bottles. There are vaccinations available for some common water-borne illnesses, for example, typhoid and hepatitis A.

The microorganisms that cause these illnesses can be picked up in food, so you should take all the usual travellers’ food precautions. Our Food-borne disease article has some tips.

Will I be able to get emergency medical care while on my Indian Ocean holiday?

Many of the most popular tourist destinations have good quality medical care, but for complex interventions you will have to be evacuated. Be sure that your travel health insurance covers this eventuality.

Health for divers in the Indian Ocean

You should protect your feet from coral cuts by wearing reef shoes. Even quite trivial wounds can take a long time to heal in the tropics and there is a greater risk of infection than in Canada. Divers should be aware of where their nearest decompression chamber is. If you are going to be a long way from such facilities, have a plan for getting help if you need it. London Diving Chamber is a source of advice for divers in remote areas.

Can I get hold of my medication?

Islands sometimes have problems with supplies of pharmaceuticals, so you should carry with you all the medications you’ll need for your trip. Bringing your own supplies will also help you avoid putting pressure on scarce local resources. Basic supplies like sunscreen and insect repellent can be expensive or difficult to get hold of, so bring plenty with you.

Can I catch malaria on an island in the Indian Ocean?

Some islands in the Indian Ocean, such as Madagascar, have a risk of malaria. Others do not. Talk to your travel health adviser as it can be tricky to work out whether you need malaria prophylaxis and when to start taking it.

Yellow fever certificates

There is little risk of contracting yellow fever around the Indian Ocean. Having said that, some islands may require you to have an international certificate of yellow fever vaccination if you have been to a place where yellow fever occurs. Talk your itinerary through with your travel health adviser to find out if this applies to you.

What other shots will I need when I go to the Indian Ocean?

Ask your travel health adviser whether you need boosters for diphtheria, tetanus and polio. You may also be at risk from hepatitis B and rabies and these will be recommended depending on where you are going and what activities you have planned. Global Travel Clinics can help you with all kinds of travel vaccines. Our many locations, make our vaccine centres very convenient.