Latest travel advice

Our latest travel advice aims to inform you about diseases and current disease outbreaks in specific areas or countries.

The zika virus is transmitted through mosquito bites. Since May 2015 the virus has spread to different areas in Latin America. In most cases, adults do not become seriously ill from an infection with the zika virus. The virus may affect unborn babies: statistical evidence suggests a link between the virus and birth defects. It is expected that the zika virus will continue to spread throughout Latin America in the coming period. In all reported areas both the Dengue virus and Chikungunya also occur, since the same mosquitoes transmit these viruses. Read more about the zika virus.

Dengue (dandy fever) occurs in almost all tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. Dengue is primarily characterised by high fever, muscle and joint aches and a general feeling of wretchedness. In most cases, the symptoms clear up after approximately seven days, however some people may feel exhausted and experience muscle aches for a long time afterwards. Approximately 1% of the patients suffer complications such as bleeding because the virus affects blood clotting. Hospitalisation may then be necessary. Dandy fever is caused by the Dengue virus and is transmitted by mosquitoes. The risk of being infected is highest during and after the rainy season (monsoon) when there are many mosquitoes. Contrary to Malaria, Dengue mostly occurs in urban areas. Periodic epidemics occur in the major cities of Asia, Central and South America and Africa affecting tens of thousands of people each year. There is no vaccine against Dengue and there are no specific medicines to treat the disease. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, which are predominantly active during the day. We advise travellers to minimalise the risk of being bitten. You can do this best by wearing covering clothes, using appropriate insect repellent on exposed skin and by keeping living and sleeping areas free from mosquitoes.

The Chikungunya virus is spreading further and further in large parts of the Caribbean. Many islands, including Curacao, St. Maarten and Aruba have reported cases of infection. Suriname, Panama, Guyana and Venezuela also reported cases of Chikungunya. The disease is primarily characterised by high fever, muscle and joint aches and general “flu-like” symptoms. Chikungunya is usually mild, however you can feel seriously ill for one to two weeks. Some patients continue to experience muscle aches until long afterwards the infection. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, which are predominately active during the day. There are no vaccines or specific medicines against Chikungunya. Therefore, we advise travellers to minimalise the risk of being bitten. You can do this best by wearing covering clothes, using appropriate insect repellent on exposed skin and by keeping living and sleeping areas free from mosquitoes.

Popular and sunny countries such as Croatia, Turkey and Morocco are ideal destinations to spend your summer holiday. These destinations are often booked last minute, for example when the Dutch weather disappoints. Often, it is not considered that infectious diseases such as Jaundice (Hepatitis A) still prevail in these countries. A vaccination protects you. Please prepare your journey well and check our Travel advice by destination.

Different types of avian flu (also known as bird flu) still exist in several parts of Asia, including Indonesia and China. Some of these types of flu can be serious – or even fatal. People predominantly get bird flu through close contact with infected birds (waterfowl, poultry). People who contract bird flu are almost always local inhabitants who have close contact with poultry. Travellers rarely get bird flu. Nevertheless, travellers to Southeast Asia and the Far East are advised to avoid contact with poultry and other birds, to not visit any markets where these animals are traded, and to make sure that food containing poultry or eggs is properly processed and heated through and through. Furthermore, it is strictly forbidden to bring back animals and said food products to the Netherlands (!)

Rabies (hydrophobia) remains a problem in Bali. Since 2008, 147 people, primarily inhabitants of Bali, did not survive this disease. Rabies is a serious, viral disease that, if not treated properly and timely, can be severe and untreatable – and even fatal. The disease is primarily spread through infected stray dogs. Moreover, the necessary means for timely intervention after scratches of dog bites are not always available in Bali. Travellers are advised to avoid all contact with dogs and other mammals. In case of a scratch or dog bite, please visit a doctor as soon as possible. There is a vaccine against Rabies. This vaccine is especially recommended for people who are at greater risk, including but not limited to people who will work with animals, travellers who somehow have an increased risk of dog bites (runners, cyclists etc.), and for people staying on the island for a longer period of time (more than a few months). If you have any questions, please call our special vaccination advice line, via: 0900 1091 096 (€1,00 per call). We are happy to help you personally.

Since September 2012, there has been an outbreak of a new type of coronavirus, named Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (in short: MERS-CoV). Coronaviruses can cause respiratory infection. An infection with MERS-CoV can cause severe pneumonia that may be accompanied by other, milder symptoms. So far, 1,179 cases of infection have been reported worldwide, the majority of which by Saudi Arabia. Most other reported patients were infected in Middle Eastern countries. Up until now, 442 people have died, often elderly and people suffering from chronic conditions and/or immune system disorders. It is not yet entirely clear how people contract the virus, however it is suspected that dromedary camels in the Middle East carry and transfer MERS-CoV. Transfer from human to human is rare, but infections have occurred in hospitals. This is often attributable to insufficient application of hygiene measures.

Outbreak in South Korea

Currently an outbreak of MERS is reported in South Korea with a total number of 30 confirmed cases, two of which were fatal. The outbreak is related to the Middle East, since its first patient contracted the disease while visiting Bahrain. The patient transmitted the virus to some others in a few hospitals. To contain the outbreak some 700 people who may have had contact with an infected person have been tracked down and are now kept under observation by the government.

Advice for travellers

People with chronic conditions or a reduced resistance are advised to avoid contact with dromedary camels and other animals in regions that have reported cases of MERS infection. We advise all travellers to observe general hygiene measures: wash your hands frequently, especially after visiting the toilet, before you eating and after contact with animals. All travellers are recommended not to have contact with sick animals and not to eat or drink raw animal products in the regions concerned. If you have any questions, please call our special vaccination advice line, via: 0900 1091 096 (€1,00 per call). We are happy to help you personally.

On June 3 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the detection poliovirus in sewage water in Israel. This had not happened since 2002. The wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) was found in the sewers of the cities Rahat and Beersheba, during a routine check. No case of poliomyelitis (paralytic polio) has been reported. Due to a high vaccination rate, it is highly unlikely that the virus will spread.

LCR advice

Normally, there is no vaccination advice for travellers to Israel. The National Coordination Centre for Travel Advice (LCR) now recommends a DTP vaccination for all travellers aged 18 and over who are planning to visit Israel and whose last polio vaccination dates back to more than ten yeast ago. Travellers under 18 are advised to check if their vaccination status according to the National Vaccination Programme is up to date and, if necessary, to proceed to a catch up schedule.

What is Influenza A (H7N9)?

Influenza A (H7N9) is a subtype of the influenza (‘flu’) virus. In the past this virus was only detected in birds, however since February 2013 over a hundred people got infected in China.

What are the symptoms?

People infected with this virus are faced with severe flu, high fever and acute respiratory symptoms. After 5 to 7 days, severe pneumonia may arise along with severe respiratory problems.

Where does H7N9 currently occur?

All known human infections with Influenza A (H7N9) so far occurred in East China in the provinces Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang. One case occurred in Beijing. There are no known cases outside these areas.

How is Influenza A (H7N9) transmitted?

As of yet it is not known how people get infected with this virus. Some patients have had contact with animals (birds), but it is not whether this contact caused the infection. There are no known cases of transfer from human to human. Are preventative measures necessary? Currently, there is no need for special preventative measures. The number of infections is very low and infections merely occur in one area. The virus is not spreading. Moreover, there is no evidence whatsoever of transmission from human to human.

General advice

Bird flu viruses other than H7N9 also still occur in (Southeast) Asia. Therefore, it is generally advised to not have any contact wit animals (birds and pigs in particular) whilst in Southeast Asia. Bird products (eggs etc.) can be eaten, but only if they are properly cooked. Are there any special measures for aviation? No, currently no specific advice concerning special measures for aviation, passenger and freight transport, is given. According to the IATA no special measures are needed at this moment.

Since February 2014, several countries in West Africa suffer from an outbreak of Ebola virus disease. The outbreak is currently under control in Liberia and Sierra Leone, however new cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Guinea. After a country has been declared free of Ebola, there is a further 90 days of increased surveillance for new cases. Sierra Leone was declared on Ebola-free on November 7, 2015 and Liberia on January 14, 2016. Source: WHO and LCR Heightened alertness for new cases remains in effect.

Ebola virus disease (EVD)

The Ebola virus causes a serious infectious disease named Ebola virus disease (EVD). The risk of infection applies particularly in the remote regions where the virus is prevalent. The Ebola virus can only be transmitted through direct physical contact with an infected person (also when deceased) and through body fluids of infected humans and animals (blood, faeces, urine, vomit, sperm, sweat). There is no proof of spreading through sneezing or coughing. People often get infected at the funeral of a relative. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 23 days after exposure to Ebola (8 to 10 days on average). Prior to the onset of symptoms, there is no risk of contamination. Ebola virus disease usually begins with complaints such as headaches, muscle aches, extreme weakness and fatigue and accompanied by vomiting, diarrhoea, liver damage and kidney damage. In some cases, unexplained internal and external bleedings arise. Between 25 en 90% of those infected do not survive, with an average of 50%. There is no vaccine available against Ebola. Treatment primarily consists of preventing and fighting complications.

Advice for travellers

Travellers are not likely to get infected. However, we strongly advise travellers – besides general hygiene matters – to also observe additional measures. Avoid contact with blood or other bodily fluids (such saliva and urine) of infected persons. Also avoid unprotected sexual contact. Ultimately, also avoid contact with wild animals and do not eat ‘bush meat’. If you have any questions, please call our special vaccination advice line, via: 0900 1091 096 (€1,00 per call). We are happy to help you personally.

Background information

Ever since 1988, the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to free the world of polio (poliomyelitis, or infantile paralysis) through vaccination. As a result, the number of reported cases has reduced from 350,000 cases worldwide in 1988 to a mere 406 in 2013 – a reduction of 99%! The last three countries reporting cases of polio were Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Poliomyelitis

Poliomyelitis is caused by the poliovirus. The virus is excreted in faeces and can then infect a person through the mouth, for example through drinking contaminated water. People can also be infected via airborne droplets produced through sneezing, coughing or even shouting. Many people do not get the disease but may infect others. The disease is characterised by flu-like symptoms, gastrointestinal discomfort, meningitis, headaches, fever and paralysis. There is no specific treatment for polio. The risk of severe symptoms increases with age.

Latest news

Since 2013, the number of reported polio cases is on the increase. This is worrisome, since eradication of the diseases appeared in sight. It is therefore of great importance that the anti-polio programme continues to be carried out in order to prevent the disease from reappearing in full force. This is why, on 5 May 2014, the WHO declared the spread of the wild poliovirus a Public Health Event of International Concern (PHEIC). In 2014, polio has been spreading from Pakistan to Afghanistan, from Syria to Iraq, and from Cameroon to Equatorial Guinea. The poliovirus was also detected in Ethiopia, Israel, Somalia and Nigeria. The WHO advises these countries to take measures so to prevent further transmission.

Advice for travellers

The LCR recommends a poliomyelitis (DTP) vaccination to travellers visiting countries where polio is prevalent. There is an intensified vaccination policy for travellers to Pakistan and Afghanistan: all travellers who go to Pakistan or Afghanistan, must get a DTP vaccination at least 4 weeks and no longer than 12 months before they leave the country again. This is an international mandatory vaccination. Proof of vaccination should be stamped into your International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis (Yellow Card). No tightened vaccination policy applies to the remaining nine countries.

Travel advice Foreign Affairs

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel advice helps you prepare for safety risks during your stay abroad. The advice, for example, tells you which regions are safe and to which regions you should not travel. Sometimes there are security risks. If this is the case, please be alert or, preferably, only travel to the country concerned if genuinely necessary. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set up a new central telephone number for travellers, which can be reached 24/7. Please call: +31247247247.