How to Not Get Sick in the Philippines - Some Tips

The beautiful tropical weather of the Philippines means you need to prepare for mosquito, water and animal borne illnesses. Here's how to prevent getting sick.

This is one of Southeast Asia‘s most beautiful destinations, the Philippines offers the best of everything: Tropical weather, endless stretches of white sandy beaches, tantalizing culture and warm, friendly people. Don't believe us? But the raw, natural environment that entices people to visit can come with a price: far too many bugs and 'bitey things' that can leave you seriously ill.

Common Diseases and Illnesses in the Philippines

1. Mosquito-Borne Disease

Insect-borne diseases are a concern, with epidemics of malaria being reported in several of the provincial regions. Thankfully the busier areas like Manila are not usually affected. Dengue fever, on the other hand, is a growing problem in just about all areas of the Philippines.

Other mosquito-borne illnesses found there include Japanese encephalitis and filariasis, particularly between the months of June and November, the wet season there. As with any disease carried by insects, the best way to avoid contraction is by using a good quality insect repellent and wearing appropriate clothing that keeps arms, legs and feet covered.

2. Water-Borne Disease

The Philippines is a hotspot for water-borne illnesses, such as cholera, typhoid and any number of diarrheal diseases. Outbreaks occur frequently and at any time and place. These unpleasant illnesses can be contracted by drinking contaminated water, or consuming food washed in said water. Even the ice used to chill your drinks may contain bacteria, so be careful. And whenever possible, stick with bottled water or boil it yourself first.

3. Animal-Borne Disease

Risk of rabies is present throughout the Philippines, particularly the more rural areas, and it‘s quite serious. There have been several reported deaths from the illness in recent years. If you happen to be unfortunate enough to be scratched or bitten by an animal, seek medical attention immediately for treatment.

Vaccinations for Travel to The Philippines

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends all travellers should be covered for, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Polio. If you were not vaccinated as a child consult with a doctor. Tetanus and Diphtheria require booster shots every 10 years. Vaccination against Hepatitis A and B is also wise.

Additionally, travelers planning to stay more than one month or those planning to get into the backblocks and get down with rural life should consider vaccination for:

  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Tuberculosis (a TB skin test is usually recommended before and after travel, rather than vaccination and only one vaccine is required for life.)
  • Meningitis
  • Rabies

It‘s important to note that most vaccinations take a couple of weeks to produce immunity so enough time should be given between receiving shots and taking your trip. Talk to your doctor and plan accordingly.

Taking Medicines to Philippines

If there‘s a prescription medication that you need to take during your visit, make sure to keep it in its original packaging, with clearly visible labels. It‘s recommended that you get a signed letter from your doctor that describes your medical condition, prescribed medication and dosage to bring with you for customs. It‘s also a good idea to bring double of whatever prescription you need, packed separately, in case of loss or theft.

Is It That Bad?

Not generally. There are plenty of amazing things to do and see while visiting the Philippines. One thing you want to avoid, however, is getting sick while you‘re there. By preparing beforehand with the appropriate vaccinations and immunizations, and knowing what to steer clear of once you arrive, you‘ll be able to enjoy your trip disease-free.

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1 Comment

  • Rick Novak said

    I broke my back surfing in a remote area of the Philippines and it took 10 days to make it back to Manila, and another 4 before I was back in the US. All this time I had no pain killers stronger than ibuprofen. Be aware that you cannot get any kind of opiates: Vicodin, Oxycontin, etc from any doctors there; they're not allowed to prescribe them.


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