China is a huge country, and includes environments as diverse as the Yangtze River Valley, the Gobi Desert, the steppes of Mongolia and the mountains of Tibet. It is a natural destination for outdoor adventurers of all types. Yet, while China may have a booming economy, it remains a country of contrasts. Even its modern cities can be shockingly polluted, and in many rural areas of China things are much the same as they were 40 years ago. A few basic precautions are necessary to visit China, to stay healthy and to make the most of your trip.
Get Your Shots
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends bringing your basic vaccinations up to date for a trip to China. These are the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT) and the poliovirus shots. They also recommend vaccinations for Hepatitis A and B, both of which are frighteningly easy to catch. Finally, those setting off for some outdoor adventure in China should get their rabies, typhoid and Japanese encephalitis shots.
Malaria and Dengue
Malaria is not very widespread in China. It is typically only found in Anhui, Hainan and Yunnan provinces, and even there it is uncommon. Dengue fever is also found in that general part of the country. You are probably better off not taking anti-malarial drugs for a visit to China, since the risks of running afoul of the bad side-effects of anti-malarials outweigh the minor presence the disease has in the country. There are no drugs that prevent dengue fever. So, the most appropriate preventative measure for these two mosquito-borne illnesses is to bring and regularly use a bottle of strong, deep-woods insect repellent. In the U.S., you can get repellents with 98 percent DEET, which is about three times more concentrated than what is normally available overseas. That makes it a smart move to buy your bug spray before you leave.
Treat even the tap water in major cities as suspect, and that includes ice cubes. Always drink either bottled water or water that you have purified yourself. As a traveler, the best and most lightweight approach to treating water is a two-step method. The first step is disinfecting the water, either by boiling, using iodine tablets or using chlorine drops. The second step is to remove pollutants by running the water through a carbon filter (like those used in Brita and Pur pitchers). This is especially important for those venturing into rural areas, who have limited or no access to bottled water supplies.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.