Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski-Kelner


Infection risk is higher in (sub)tropical countries than in Western countries. Apply the following general measures to reduce the risk:

Basic hygiene

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap after using the toilet and before eating. Use an alcohol-based gel if soap and water are not available.

Food and drinks

Follow the measures to ensure safe consumption of food and drinks.


Wash any wounds and insect bites that have been scratched open with soap and water. Then disinfect these wounds with iodopovidone (e.g Isobetadine) or chlorhexidine and cover with clean dressings. Also refer to wounds and skin infections.


Do not touch animals, including dead animals or animal products.   

Seek medical advice immediately if you have been bitten or scratched or if you have been licked on mucous membranes or damaged skin, due to the possible risk of rabies.

Avoid places that are contaminated by animal excrement.

Avoid risks

Use condoms if you have sexual contact. 

Avoid using non-sterile medical materials: 

  • needles for piercing and tattooing  
  • razor blades at the hairdresser/barber  
  • acupuncture needles  
  • unreliable injections and blood transfusions  

Ensure that other people do not cough in your face. When coughing or sneezing, cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue and throw it in the rubbish bin straight away.  

Do not enter caves where bats live. 

Avoid contact with contaminated water and do not go in the water if there is a risk of schistosomiasis.

Legionnaires’ disease

When you arrive in your hotel or holiday home, run the cold taps first and then the warm taps for two minutes to reduce the risk of infection with legionella bacteria. Open the door or window and leave the room whilst the taps are running.

Insects and ticks

Protect yourself against mosquitos and tick bites, because these can transmit diseases. Apply a single dose of steroid cream to an itching insect bite to prevent the bite from being scratched open.

Bare feet

Do not walk on bare feet and always sit on a thick towel or mat on the beach to avoid certain parasitic infections.


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