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Worldworx Travel Travel Health: Middle East

Health Information for Travelers to Middle East
Bahrain, Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen

 

NOTE: Please check the Outbreaks section for important updates on this region.

Map of Middle East

The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in the Middle East depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. You should observe the precautions listed in this document in most areas of this region. However, in highly developed areas of Israel, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.

Travelers� diarrhea, the number one illness in travelers, can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. (See below.)

Malaria is a preventable infection that can be fatal if left untreated. Prevent infection by taking prescription antimalarial drugs and protecting yourself against mosquito bites (see below). Travelers to some areas of Iran, Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen may be at risk for malaria. There is no risk of malaria in Bahrain, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Qatar. For additional information on malaria risk and prevention, see Malaria Information for Travelers to the Middle East.

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and plague are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites (see below) will help to prevent these diseases.

There is no risk for yellow fever in the Middle East. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements.

CDC recommends the following vaccines (as appropriate for age):
See your doctor at least 4�6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).
  • Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, stay longer than 6 months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
  • Meningococcal vaccine is required for pilgrims to Mecca for the annual Hajj. However, CDC currently recommends the vaccine for all travelers to Mecca, including those traveling for the Umra. (For more information, please see Meningococcal Disease Among Travelers to Saudi Arabia.)
  • Rabies, if you might be exposed to wild or domestic animals through your work or recreation.
  • Typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region.
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11�12 years who have not completed the series.

All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water.
  • Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible and always use seat belts.
  • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Don�t eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
  • Don�t share needles with anyone.
  • Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
  • Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry, raw eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products. Raw shellfish is particularly dangerous to persons who have liver disease or compromised immune systems.

Travelers visiting undeveloped areas should take the following precautions:

To stay healthy, do...

  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through an �absolute 1-micron or less� filter AND adding iodine tablets to the filtered water. �Absolute 1-micron filters� are found in camping/outdoor supply stores.
  • If you visit an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
    • Prevent mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide).
    • Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Mosquitoes that transmit malaria bite between dusk and dawn.
    • Unless you are staying in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with the insecticide permethrin.
    • For more information on protecting yourself from insect bites and DEET see Protection against Mosquitoes and Other Arthropods.
  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.

To avoid getting sick...

What you need to bring with you:

  • Long-sleeved shirt and long pants to wear while outside whenever possible, to prevent illnesses carried by insects (e.g., malaria, dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis).
  • Insect repellent containing DEET.
  • Bed nets impregnated with permethrin (can be purchased in camping or military supply stores).
  • Over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicine to take if you have diarrhea.
  • Iodine tablets and water filters to purify water if bottled water is not available. See Do�s above for more details about water filters.
  • Sunblock, sunglasses, hat.
  • Prescription medications: make sure you have enough to last during your trip, as well as a copy of the prescription(s).

After you return home:
If you have visited a malaria-risk area, continue taking your antimalarial drug for 4 weeks (chloroquine, mefloquine, or doxycycline) or seven days (Malarone�) after leaving the risk area. Travelers who become ill with a fever or flu-like illness while traveling in a malaria-risk area and up to one year after returning home should seek prompt medical attention and should tell the physician their travel history.

For more information:
Ask your doctor or check the CDC web sites for more information about protecting yourself against diseases that occur in the Middle East, including the following:

Diseases carried by insects

Diseases carried in food or water

Diseases from person-to-person contact

For more information about these and other diseases, please check the Diseases page.
 

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