Most health risks specific to Australia are associated with heat and animal contact, for which you might consider taking on additional insurance.
Climate-related health risks
Australia has different climate zones, due to the large size of the continent.
Especially in desert areas, where the climate is arid, high temperatures are common. Protect yourself from the sun! Don’t skimp on sunscreen, drink plenty of water and don’t go outside without a hat and sunglasses. You often see travellers suffering from heat stroke because, despite all the prevention campaigns, they are not sufficiently cautious about sun exposure. Keep in mind that Australia is the country with the highest rates of skin cancer. Be extremely careful!
Health risks related to animals and insects
Animals probably pose the biggest threat to human health in Australia. Koalas and kangaroos are not the only animals living in Australia!
Beware of mosquitoes! Although the risk is low, cases of dengue fever have been reported in Queensland. Mosquitoes also transmit Ross fever or Murrey Valley encephalitis (a disease similar to Japanese encephalitis). Again, the risk of mosquito-borne diseases is very low, but it’s still best to protect against mosquito bites. Use citronella wristbands and anti-mosquito sprays to not let these pesky mosquitoes spoil your trip! Other insects to be wary of are certain spiders such as the Red Back. Some are poisonous and even lethal if you are not treated quickly.
The bite of certain snakes or spiders can have serious or life-threatening consequences. If you find yourself in this situation, move your body as little as possible to prevent the venom from spreading and have somebody take you to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible. It’s worth learning a bit about which species are poisonous. For instance, a Carpet Python can bite you if it feels threatened, but does not have venom. However, Brown Snakes do, and they chase you. To put forward an example, they recorded 313 snakebites, averaging three bites per day, between January and March 2017 in Queensland.
In the north of Australia, be vigilant if you’re anywhere near water. Saltwater crocodiles could be lurking underwater and attack you unexpectedly. It’s best to keep a good distance to water holes and rivers in which salt crocs might be staying. By the way, even though their name suggests they only live in saltwater, they don’t! They can actually travel in fresh water about 200km inland.
Another reason to not go swimming in the ocean in Northern Australia is the lethal Box Jellyfish. As their season runs from October to May, you might see brave people in the water at other times. To be on the safe side, rather swim in the public pools or lagoons.
There are obviously other animals you should stay far away from! A stray dog or any other animal that bites you can become a hazard if it transmits rabies. Get informed about the areas where rabies is known to occur.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will come across these animals on your trip. Just be aware that there are a number of venomous snakes and spiders as well as other dangerous terrestrial and marine animals in Australia. So be careful where you step and swim!
Recommended vaccines to prevent diseases
You don’t need to get vaccinated to enter Australia, but it is recommended to get vaccination against:
- Tick-borne encephalitis if you plan to go to northern Australia or to rural areas.
- Rabies, which occurs in rural areas.
Take care of yourself and be careful on your journey. If in doubt about your health, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor.