Keeping healthy when travelling

Find out how you and your whānau can keep healthy when travelling.

Before you travel

We recommend you are immunised against measles before you leave Aotearoa New Zealand.

Check with your healthcare provider or travel doctor to see if you need any immunisations. Try to do this 6 to 8 weeks before you leave.

As a minimum, you should make sure that all your routine immunisations are up-to-date such as tetanus, measles, and polio vaccinations.

Diseases to be aware of when you travel

There are certain types of diseases to be aware of when you travel including diseases spread through:

  • coughing and sneezing
  • contaminated food, water or poo (faeces)
  • sexual contact or blood and body fluids
  • mosquito and other insect bites.

Diseases that are spread through coughing and sneezing

Some diseases that are spread through coughing and sneezing include:

Protect yourself and others

  • Consider wearing a well-fitting mask when you are in close contact with others – particularly in crowded indoor spaces.
  • Wash hands frequently and dry thoroughly. It can be useful to carry hand sanitiser in case you do not have access to soap, hot water and a clean towel.
  • Do not share drinks.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.

Measles is a serious and highly contagious disease spread through coughing and sneezing. It can cause severe problems, including brain swelling, chest infections, or death. Right now, there are measles outbreaks happening around the world. If you are travelling overseas make sure you are fully immunised against measles before you go.  The measles vaccine is very effective at preventing measles.

Check the latest measles travel information and advice for your destination:

About the Measles (MMR) vaccine
  • If there is not enough time before you travel to complete the recommended 2 doses, having even one dose of the MMR vaccine before you leave Aotearoa New Zealand will significantly reduce your (or your child’s) risk of getting infected.
  • It is best to have your vaccination at least 2 weeks before you travel, if possible.
  • Babies under 12 months may also be able to be immunised for measles before travelling. Ask your healthcare provider if your pepi can have the MMR vaccine.
  • You can get your MMR vaccine at your healthcare provider, or some local pharmacies.

Measles MMR vaccine

Diseases spread by contaminated food, water or poo (faeces)

Diseases spread by contaminated food, water or poo include:

These are spread by contact with an infected person's poo and can be spread by:

  • not washing your hands properly
  • contaminated food or water
  • contaminated surfaces
  • close personal contact with someone who has the virus including sexual contact.

Protect yourself and others

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially before eating. It can be useful to carry hand sanitiser in case you do not have access to soap, hot water, and a clean towel.
  • Only drink bottled water, or water that you know has been treated.
  • Avoid high risk foods, such as undercooked meats, unpasteurised milk or cheese.
  • Avoid raw vegetables and unpeeled fruit, unless you know these have been prepared safely, with clean water.
  • If you are vomiting (throwing up) or have diarrhoea (runny poos), or have been caring for someone who has these symptoms, dispose safely, or clean, all soiled items and regularly wash your hands.

There are polio outbreaks in several countries overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends all travellers to polio-affected areas are fully vaccinated against polio.

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative website has a current list of polio-infected countries

Outbreak countries - Global Polio Eradication Initiative (external link)

Diseases spread through sexual contact or blood and body fluids

Diseases spread through sexual content, blood or body fluids include:

Sexual and reproductive conditions
Burnett Foundation Website (external link)

Diseases spread by mosquitoes and other biting insects

Diseases spread by mosquitoes and other biting insects include:

  • dengue
  • zika virus
  • malaria
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Ross River virus
  • Murray Valley encephalitis
  • West Nile fever
  • chikungunya
  • yellow fever.


Dengue is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes. There is currently a dengue outbreak in Samoa.  Dengue

West Nile fever

West Nile fever is also a viral infection spread by mosquitoes.

Information about mosquitoes and other insects


Mosquitoes that carry malaria, West Nile fever or Japanese encephalitis are more active in the evening and at night. If you are travelling in an area that has these diseases, be careful at those times.

Mosquitoes that carry dengue, yellow fever or zika are more active in the daytime, are silent and prefer to bite the ankles.

Tsetse flies

Tsetse flies are large flies found in mid-continental Africa, particularly in vegetated areas. Their bite can cause sleeping sickness. Sleeping sickness symptoms include fatigue, high fever, headaches, and muscle aches. 


Ticks are common in a variety of climates, including warm, humid climates such as the Australian bush, as well as temperate climates or anywhere large mammals thrive. They can carry many diseases.

  • Wear long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing - you can see ticks are more easily on a light background and tsetse flies are attracted to dark, contrasting colours.

  • Repel

    • Use a repellent, preferably containing diethyltoluamide (DEET, less than 35%), Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Always read the instructions before applying.
    • Apply repellent after sunscreen.
    • Spray clothing with an insecticide such as permethrin.

    Important repellent information

    • High concentrations of DEET protect better, but concentrations over 35% (about 350 g/L) are not recommended if there is a choice of products available. This is because in rare cases they can cause poisoning.
    • Other products containing 20–25% picaridin (about 200–250 g/L) and those containing about 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus (equating to about 20% para-methane-diol (PMD)) can also be used.
    • Repellents should not be applied to wounds, irritated skin, eyes or mouth.
    • Vitamin B does not prevent mosquito bites.
    • Stay in places with screens on windows and doors or sleep under mosquito nets.
    • Use air conditioning or fans if available.
    • Use insect sprays indoors when mosquitoes are around, even if you are not able to see them.
    • Use mosquito coils.
    • Stay away from places where mosquitoes are most active or breeding such as stagnant water.
    • If you are camping, use zip-up screens on tents.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

When you sit still for long periods of time you increase your risk of blood clots (called deep vein thrombosis). Deep vein thrombosis is a particular risk for people travelling on long journeys.

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