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Hong Kong: Travel Health
Although there are some issues to consider with regards to travel health in Hong Kong, you are generally safe. Many people probably consider diseases such as bird flu or swine flu their biggest risk. To alleviate these concerns, we have also prepared a separate section on the flu in Hong Kong.
Here we will rather talk about other aspects of travel health. The most important issue is getting the right vaccinations: Up-to-date routine shots are mostly enough to ensure your health in Hong Kong. Furthermore, as another health-related measure, you should pay attention to precautions against insect bites: Insects might transmit diseases. Further information on travel health in Hong Kong will include food and water safety, potentially dangerous animals, and respiratory diseases.
Should you experience a health emergency in Hong Kong, just call 999. This number gets you in touch with emergency services, including the police, ambulance, and fire department.
Vaccinations and General Precautions
Travel health in Hong Kong does not require any specific vaccinations before starting your journey. To be on the safe side, check your vaccination status on routine shots and make sure they are all up-to-date. Routine shots usually include flu, polio, measles/mumps/rubella as well as diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus. Vaccinations for hepatitis A and B are often highly recommended, especially if you plan on staying in Hong Kong or traveling through Southeast Asia. When you gather information for you Hong Kong visa, you should also find out about up-to-date health warnings.
It’s best to contact your family doctor well in advance of your departure to determine which booster shots you need. You might need further vaccinations, e.g. for rabies and typhoid fever, if you want to travel to other parts of Southeast Asia. However, you can easily get those immunizations in Hong Kong. Regular vaccinations for infants and children are also available.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate remains relatively low. Nevertheless, you are strongly advised to stick to the normal precautionary measures. The Virtual AIDS Office of Hong Kong provides you with further information on the situation concerning HIV/AIDS in Hong Kong.
In Hong Kong, you have to deal with mosquitoes all year round. They are usually worst in spring and summer, starting in April, until cooler and dryer weather sets in around October. However, in most parts of Southeast Asia, mosquitoes are not only a nuisance. Sometimes, they also carry dangerous diseases.
Even though these diseases are very rare in Hong Kong, there have been a few cases of dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis. Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne infection caused by the dengue virus. It is common in many countries throughout Southeast Asia. However, in most cases, dengue fever is brought to Hong Kong by people who were bitten by an infected mosquito while abroad. It is very rare in Hong Kong itself, and it cannot be spread directly from human to human.
Cases of Japanese encephalitis have also been reported in Hong Kong, although it is very rare, too. There have only been about a dozen cases within the last ten years. Vaccinations for Japanese encephalitis are only recommended if you plan to travel to other Asian countries and spend some time in rural areas.
Nevertheless, you should take a few simple precautions to prevent insect bites:
- Wear long-sleeved clothing which covers your arms, legs and ankles when spending time outdoors. Some hikers have been infected with scrub typhus by mites living in Hong Kong’s countryside.
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET to all skin not covered by clothing. Bear in mind, though, that the concentration of DEET should normally not exceed 35% for adults and 20% for children. Pregnant women and infants shouldn’t use such repellants at all.
- Sleep in air-conditioned rooms or put mosquito screens on windows and doors.
- If you do not have any screens, use a mosquito net for your bed.
We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.