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Prevention is the best precaution when traveling. Before you depart, check with your physician and follow his or her recommendations.

Prior to any major trip check to make sure that your vaccinations are up-to-date. Your basic checklist for any trip to Asia should include tetanus, hepatitis A, TB, typhoid and polio. If you are spending a long time in China or visiting more remote areas consider the following - influenza, Hepatitis B, meningitis, Japanese B encephalitis and rabies. Visitors to south and south west China may need to consider a course of anti-malarials.

Before departing check the latest situation for the region in which you will be traveling. A good web site for advisories is the Center for Disease Control.

Some regions in China, including Tibet, Xinjiang, Sichuan and Yunnan are at high altitudes. If traveling to these areas beware of the effect of altitude on health. It can take days or weeks to acclimatize to higher altitudes. It is a good idea to refrain from arduous exercise or trekking until you are acclimatized. It may be helpful to check with you physician prior to leaving, to discuss precautions and preventative measures.

The standard of medical care and medication varies throughout China, but facilities in major cities are generally good. If you take any medication on a regular basis, bring enough to last through your trip. Pack your prescriptions with your medications to avoid any problems at customs. You may wish to consider travel insurance with medical cover.

To avoid illness a few easy precautions can be taken. Wash your hands frequently. Do not drink water that has not been boiled and when in doubt drink bottled water. Freezing does not purify water. Before drinking anything with ice, make sure the ice was made with bottled or boiled water. Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly in purified water, peeled or boiled. Undercooked meat and most shellfish should be avoided.

A major complaint of travelers is traveler's diarrhea. This condition is generally caused by a change in diet or contaminated food or water. You may want to bring an over the counter anti-diarrhea medication, such as Imodium, to deal with the symptoms. For most complaints it is best to seek professional advice as self-diagnosis is risky.

Toilets in China tend to be of the squat variety. They rarely come with paper. Keeping a supply of tissues on you is a good idea.


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