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Philippines - Local Health Conditions



This is the worst of the watery diarrhoeas, and medical help should be sought. It occurs in many parts of the Philippines, though outbreaks are generally widely reported, so you can avoid such problem areas.


This is a general term for inflammation of the liver. There are several different viruses that cause hepatitis, and they differ in the way that they are transmitted. The symptoms are similar in all forms of the illness, and include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, feelings of weakness, aches and pains, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-coloured faeces, jaundiced (yellow) skin and yellowing of the whites of the eyes.

Hepatitis A is transmitted by contaminated food and drinking water. You should seek medical advice, but there is not much you can do apart from resting, drinking lots of fluids, eating lightly and avoiding fatty foods. Hepatitis E is transmitted in the same way as hepatitis A; it can be particularly serious in pregnant women. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with infected blood, blood products or body fluids or unsterilised, contaminated equipment such as tattoo needles. The symptoms of hepatitis B may be more severe than type A and the disease can lead to long-term problems such as chronic liver damage, liver cancer or a long-term carrier state. Hepatitis D is spread in the same way as hepatitis B; hepatitis C through blood to blood contact only. Both can lead to long-term complications.


This fatal viral infection is found throughout the Philippines. Many animals (such as dogs, cats, bats and monkeys) can be infected and it is their saliva which is infectious. Any bite, scratch or even lick from an animal should be cleaned immediately and thoroughly. Scrub with soap and running water, and then apply alcohol or iodine solution. Medical help should be sought promptly to receive a course of injections to prevent the onset of symptoms and death.


This serious and potentially fatal disease is spread by mosquito bites. If you are travelling in endemic areas it is extremely important to avoid mosquito bites and to take tablets to prevent this disease. Symptoms range from fever, chills and sweating, headache, diarrhoea and abdominal pains to a vague feeling of ill-health. Seek medical help immediately if malaria is suspected. Without treatment malaria can rapidly become more serious and can be fatal.


This dangerous gut infection is caused by contaminated water and food. Medical help must be sought. During its early stages sufferers may feel as if they have a bad cold or flu on the way. Early symptoms include a headache, body aches and a fever that rises a little each day until it is around 40°C (104°F) or more. The victim's pulse is usually slow, relative to the degree of fever present - unlike a normal fever where the pulse increases. There may also be vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea or constipation. In the second week the high fever and slow pulse continue and a few pink spots may appear on the body; trembling, delirium, weakness, weight loss and dehydration may occur. Complications such as pneumonia, perforated bowel or meningitis may occur.

intestinal worms

These parasites are most common in rural, tropical areas. The different worms have a number of ways of infecting people. Some may be ingested on food such as undercooked meat (eg, tapeworms) and some enter through your skin (eg, hookworms). Infestations may not show up for some time, and although they are generally not serious, if left untreated some can cause severe health problems later. Consider having a stool test when you return home to check for these and determine the appropriate treatment.

dengue fever

The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the dengue virus, is most active during the day and is found mainly in urban areas, in and around human dwellings. Signs and symptoms of dengue fever include a sudden onset of high fever, headache, joint and muscle pains, nausea and vomiting. A rash of small red spots sometimes appears three to four days after the onset of fever. In the early stages, dengue may be mistaken for malaria and influenza. Minor bleeding such as nose bleeds may occur in the course of the illness, but this does not necessarily mean that you have progressed to the potentially fatal dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF). This is a severe illness, characterised by heavy bleeding, which is thought to be a result of a second infection by a different strain (there are four major strains) and it usually affects residents of the country rather than travellers.

schistosomiasis (bilharzia)

Also known as bilharzia, this disease is transmitted by minute worms. They infect certain varieties of freshwater snails found in rivers, streams, lakes and particularly behind dams. The worms multiply and are eventually discharged into the water. Schistosomiasis mostly occurs in Africa. It has been cited as being present in central Sulawesi, but it is very rare.

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