Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jabs ah...
More jabs.

Today I finally went for my date at Travellers' Clinic in NUH to take more vaccinations. For the good $50 consultation, the doctor very kindly freaked me out with all the details of how to take care of myself. Initially I was just listening carefully, but when the information proved to be too much for the short-term memory, I had to quickly scribbled down all the advice for the various diseases, and they very quickly filled up my paper.

And then, jabs again. Today, it's diphhteria-tetanus and yellow fever. I got a yellow vaccination booklet as my vaccination certificate.

My yellow booklet - nicely in English and French.

A sneak into some of my vaccination progress.

To share some of the health information:

Hepatitis A

- Eat only well-cooked meat
- No raw vegetable should be consumed
- Peel your fruits, not just washed it under water
- Ensure good hand hygiene. Carry a small hand sanitizer around.
- Vaccination: 2 jabs with 6 - 12 months in between and can protect up to 30 years. Cost: SGD129 before GST.

Rabies

- A virus transmitted by saliva (and only saliva) of mammals (and only mammals, not birds or snakes)
- There is no obvious sign is the mammal is rabid.
- Once the virus reaches the nervous system, the attack is FATAL.
- Vaccination: 3 jabs to be completed within 21 days. Cost: SGD157 per jab!
- Currently there is a worldwide shortage of rabies vaccines, so you can't even have it even if you have the money to pay for it!
- If not vaccinated, and if wounds were in contact with mammals' saliva, wash wound with water and any disinfectant - soap, iodine. Scrub out all the grime and let the wound bleed to wash out the virus. Within 48h, go to any hospital to inject antibody into the wound. Then, take another 4 injections. Check if insurance covers flight to reliable hospitals.

Yellow Fever

- A mosquito-borne disease
- Attacks the liver and also other organs such as brain and the kidneys.
- 30% mortality rate without vaccines.
- Vaccination: 1 vaccination of live virus, available only upon prescription by doctors. Cost: SGD110.

Malaria

- The malaria-carrying mosquitoes bite most frequently at dawn, dusk and night.
- Apply mosquito-repellent that contains at least 30-40% DEET all day long to all exposed body parts (including under feet). Reapply every 4 hours.
- Wear long sleeves and pants if going out at night.
- Sleep under mosquito net.
- For people without history of depression, anxiety or other psychotic disorder, mefluoquin is recommended.
- Take once a week. Start taking mefluoquin 3 weeks before departure (for me, that's mid April) to build up the antibodies and continue 4 weeks after coming back to wash out all virus.
- Some side effects at the beginning: Nausea, headache, vivid dreams.

Travellers' diarrhea

- Caused by bacteria
- Can be cured by just keeping yourself hydrated.
- Bring along oral rehydration sachets.
- Can stop it using any anti-diarrhea pills, but if you are having fever or blood in your faeces, or if the diarrhea doesn't stop after 3-4 days, take antibiotics.

Next up: 

  • X-ray tomorrow
  • Next Monday: Hepatitis A injection.
Shopping list for things to be put into my luggage bag:
  • Mosquito repellant with 30% DEET.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Stop-It
  • Oral rehydration sachets
  • Antibiotics
I was getting a little scared when the doctor was giving me all the advice. I was suddenly awaken to the reality of the enormity of preparation needed beforehand and protection needed on-site. But at the same time I started to wonder: Do the locals there do these preparation too? If not, why are they still alive?

A world of uncertainty.

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