How to stay healthy in Nepal- Some good advices!
"swine flue screening" at Kathmandu Airport!
Beware...in Nepal are over 30 cases of positive identified "swine flu virus". They are confined and in quarantine. No one has died so far and the treatment seem to work. The 2009 flu pandemic is a global outbreak of a new strain of influenza A virus subtype H1N1, identified in April 2009 and commonly referred to as swine flu, which infects anyone who comes in close proximity of a carrier, even for a short while only!
Strangely these all have been detected by in coming folks at the Kathmandu International Airport. No cases so far are known from inside the country..
All people are screened by professional doctors of the Nepalese Ministry of Health. Be polite and patient, when they ask you for screening...be happy that they do, because who knows who else has been with you at the long air travel journey. It is for your own safety because the check up is effective and for free.
Visitors to Nepal should apply the following rules all the time
in order to stay healthy.
1. Wash your hands with soap before touching any food.
Most cases of diarrhea are not even caused by contaminated food in the many restaurants at trekking hubs and tourist spots. Its your own dirt that you fetched from doorknobs, chairs and tables in garden restaurants and shaking hands with each other. Then you order and eat a well prepared and clean sandwich or some finger-chips with dip and "bingo"
2. Avoid green salads and lettuce leaves that are coming with your dish as ornamental addition! There is now way for the cook to get this stuff amoeba free even if he baths the leaves in potassium permanganate as claimed in the menu. We did laboratory tests on that and the large cells of a lettuce leave still contain a number of giardia lambilia and lesser often end-ameba histolitica. These two are the most common gastric infections a trekker or visitor is getting in Nepal at any places . Commonly known as "Kathmandu Quickstep" it can spoil your fun for a full week if not treated well. 2000 mg... yes that is right, two thousand mg of Tinidazole in one dosage! and only one time will do the trick to get rid of amoebas or giardiasis. If the symptoms persist you may have an other bug but that is rare. If however you have a diarrhea with fever and joint pains then there is something really wrong and you need to take antibiotics. These symptoms are causes by a salmonella, which is a serious food poisoning. The antibiotic for this emergency should be in every travelers first aid kit who goes on a longer trek in Nepal. Ciprofloxacin 500 mg every 8 hours for 5-7 days and a lot of liquid...as much as you can drink. You would not go anywhere because you really have to stay put and rest. Yet cases of food poisoning can be avoided also if you do not order scrambled eggs or mixed fried rice or noodles. Ask always food that must be prepared fresh and not pre-cooked stuff from the restaurants fridge during a trek or in very busy places. Do not be tempted by local food where Nepalese truck drivers or Nepalese passengers are eating at a bus stop or so. Better to buy some fresh bananas or oranges and do with this during a trip overland by bus. The Nepalese local restaurants are the fastest way to get ill or unwell for some days and have to rush to toilet every 20 minutes etc. Nepalese are immune for their local bacteria and all sorts of ailments that a foreign visitor is not!
High Altitude sunshine and other hazards than can cause serious trouble:
Walking in the foothills of the Himalayas can cause dangerous dehydration and sun burn if one is not well protected.
Sun screen ointment and a hat with broad rim in the color white or beige, light blue etc. should be one of the attributes. The ‘foothills” in Nepal are already as high as the Alps in Europe. Remember that you face up to the world’s highest mountain range and in the Himalayas the high mountain start where the Alps end. The tree-line with pine trees and scrubs in Nepal goes up to 6500 meters above sea level!
High altitude sunshine therefore is far more dangerous than anywhere else in the world. Those who walk steep pats upward for longer than 3 hours should make sure that they have enough liquid to drink because even when it is a cloudy day…dehydration is setting in already because of the higher altitude- the thinner air and the body work involved.
Trekkers who plan to cross a mountain pass during their holidays should be aware that they go as high as an approaching International Air Liner on a routine flight ! Most passes are up to 5600 meters. You are virtually 5.6 Kilometers up in the sky!
Annually there are many cases of High Altitude Sickness reported here and evacuation by helicopter is very costly. One out of around 250 cases is fatal! And the chance to get it is approximately 19.5 % of the trekkers of all age groups. One should approach these passes slow and take time for acclimatization. Better rest one or two days at the last lodge in front of the pass and you can be sure that crossing will be far lesser problematic.
Those who get into trouble should not continue. Some people get the sickness symptoms already at a height of 4000 meter or even lesser and no one knows why. Others rush over the passes like professional Sherpas and proudly tell everyone “The Pass is no problem at all!” Do never listen to such talk. Listen to your body and recognize the early symptoms:
(You don’t get all these symptoms here at once…they occur individually different!)
Mild headache behind your eyes, excessive sweating and trembling legs, feeling sleepless during night rest and having difficultieswith your respiration while laying on your back.
These are signs that you are NOT FIT to go further upward any more .Turn back!
My last warning here is about Malaria!
Nepal’s lowlands, the so called Terai Region are a very attractive tourist destination,
Where the wild elephants and the rhinos dwell, and the huge Nepalese Tiger is hunting his prey, there is also Malaria and precaution has to be taken.
Use a good mosquito repellent! Better you bring some along with you from home. In Nepal we are running out of stock every season because everyone buys it. Nepalese do not like Mosquito bites either you know! Take your Malaria prophylaxe pills according to your doctors description. Ask your physician at home beforehand what kind of drugs you should buy and how exactly to use them.
If you want to know something specific about this topic then feel free to ask!
Have fun while traveling through Nepal!
Last update on 2009-07-25 10:48:52
Guide section: Health care
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