Latest travel advice

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

03-31-2017: Due to a yellow fever outbreak, yellow fever vaccination is compulsory for all travellers to Suriname.

On January 6 2017, the Ministry of Health of Brazil reported a suspected outbreak of yellow fever in the states of Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, São Paulo and Bahia. This outbreak has been confirmed. Part of the outbreak area is within the existing yellow fever area (Minas Gerais State and parts of the state of Sao Paulo) but the geographical distribution is expanding, and also prevalent outside the current yellow fever area, namely in the State of Espirito Santo and parts of Bahia State. Current travel advice: a yellow fever vaccination is recommended to people who travel to the outbreak areas in the states of Minas Gerais, Espirito Santo, São Paulo and Bahia. A booster dose is recommended to travellers who have been given a yellow fever vaccination more than ten years ago.

To prevent yellow fever from spreading and/or resulting into major outbreaks, the WHO established vaccination guidelines for people travelling to or from yellow fever areas. These guidelines are applied in countries worldwide. Travellers may get vaccination advice at the border or will be obliged to get vaccinated when entering a country. Often measures are linked to the whereabouts of the traveller in the period prior to entering the country.

Stricter checks

Several countries have indicated that they (will) intensify the border checks on whether travellers have followed up on current vaccination advice. Uganda currently checks all travellers entering the country on a valid yellow fever vaccination.

Consequences

The stricter yellow fever vaccination checks at certain borders may lead to travellers being denied entry into the country, for example if they do not meet the vaccination requirements imposed by that particular country. In these cases, travellers can either be sent back or are given a vaccination, which may include a mandatory quarantine assertion of ten days before they are granted permission to travel.

Advice

Several countries require proof of a yellow fever vaccination after you have made a stopover in a country where yellow fever occurs. Please check this page at least ten days prior to departure for the current statuses per country. This will avoid problems at the border. Some countries require vaccinations to have been administered at least 10 days before travel, before granting you access.

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.

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.

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 (!)

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.

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.