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Written by Dr.Swati Rajagopal

Bengaluru: It’s time to explore the unexplored and for a healthy, happy journey. As Bengalureans head in droves to destinations literally in the wild this holiday season, they are also making sure it’s a safe trip. So a visit to a doctor and then to the pharmacist to keep a medical kit ready is now a must.

The concern is understandable. Hot on tourists’ itinerary this season are back-of-the-beyond destinations like Kamchatka in far-east Russia; Svalbard off Norway; Pantanal in Brazil; Masai Mara in Kenya and Tanzania.

Accessing these destinations is in itself a challenge for Bengalureans who live in year-round air-conditioned comfort. Kamchatka calls for a 75-minute chopper ride from Petropavlovsk and Svalbard, a 10-day sail. But the brown bears of Kamchatka, polar bears of Svalbard and wetlands of Brazil, not to speak of African safaris are worth all the trouble if travellers carry medicines and get vaccinated too.


Manipal Hospitals says they get at least seven patients a week seeking travel advice. “These hitherto unexplored, off-beat nature and wildlife destinations are now being preferred by Bengalureans. They need to be on their guard against sea-sickness, diarrhoea and fever,” says Dr Mabel Vasnaik, head of emergency at the hospital.

Tour operators too give similar advice. “We tell all travellers to carry medicines as often these places are cut-off from cities and people tend to develop certain illnesses,” said Giri Cavale, who conducts photography tours across the globe.

The first travel medicine consultation happens two weeks before the trip. During this, doctors understand the medical history of the individual, the places they intend to travel and nature of travel. “We ask them to come again four weeks after they return,” says Dr Swati Rajagopal, consultant, Infectious Diseases and Travel Medicine, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwantpur. She gets 5-6 people daily seeking travel advice. A list of clinics in those destinations is also given.




Complete with glaciers, rivers, springs and lakes, Kamchatka has 28 active volcanoes and an exotic wildlife. Tourists must watch out for infections and diarrhoea among other things.


80 degrees north in the icy Arctic is Svalbard. It is the northernmost part of Norway. Freezing temperatures can leave tourists febrile.


Vaccinations are recommended for typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, diphtheria, TB, rabies, cholera, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis depending on the destinations


Fever, fatigue, respiratory tract infections

Travel diarrhoea

Gastritis, travel sickness, sea-sickness and allergy

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