First up, don’t be alarmed and rush to cancel your flights thinking you are going to cark it or something more disastrous. The Centre for Travel Medicine in Dusseldorf, Germany has merely released a statement saying that Hepatitis A is on the increase in South-East Asia and naturally this includes Indonesia. The remedy for protection is simple – get vaccinated!. So many people have asked me on the BaliBlog Forum if or not they need to get vaccinated before travelling to Bali and if so, which types. I always tell them at least have a Hepatitis A & B combination vaccination and this will help in some way of avoiding the dreaded Bali Belly and spending your holiday barking down a toilet bowl or sitting on top of it. In reality, Hepatitis A can be easily avoided by following basic hygiene rules. Washing your hands after going to the loo is probably the main one.
The Hepatitis A virus is transmitted by eating food or drinking fluids that have been contaminated with faeces and this includes sea food. These types of food are especially prone to the virus. And because Bali is a warm climate, the virus multiplies faster. If you are new to Bali then I strongly suggest you stay away from the street stalls, eat at clean warungs or restaurants, and if you are going to buy that delicious looking ice-cream in the supermarket or shop then check the date on it. However, this doesn’t always tell you if or not the ice-cream has been left out for a short period of time. It happened to me in Java quite a few years back and I suffered.
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Consult your doctor or travel medical centre and have the initial vaccination. A second vaccination between six and 12 months after the initial injection will protect the body for at least 10 years. Obtain some Imodium from your chemist and dehydration sachets. Another thing you should also check is to see if your health insurer to see if they cover the cost of the vaccination and thus saving you a few bucks which you could spend on your holiday.
If you do fall foul of the dreaded ‘belly’, here are medical clinics all around the tourist areas and most of the upmarket hotels have a doctor-call-in available. There is also the BIMC that you could go to. And, if you are travelling on a budget then my suggestion is find an apotik and buy some Imodium. The Indonesian Imodium seems to be far stronger than that available in the western pharmacies.