The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Lunar New Year

What is the current situation?

The Year of the Pig begins on February 5, 2019, and many people will travel to Asia to celebrate the Lunar New Year. If you plan to travel to Asia to visit friends or relatives or participate in the festivities, you can take some simple precautions to help you stay safe and healthy. (People traveling to visit friends or relatives are at higher risk for some diseases. The risk is higher because they generally stay longer than tourists, eat local food in people’s homes, and may not take the same precautions as tourists do.)

Check CDC’s destinations page for country-specific health information, including vaccine and medicine recommendations, along with many other travel tips.

Zika is still a risk in many parts of the world, including some countries in Asia. Because Zika can cause serious birth defects and be spread through sex as well as mosquito bites, pregnant women should NOT travel to areas with risk of Zika (map). Partners of pregnant women and couples considering pregnancy should take prevention steps during and after travel.

What can travelers do to protect themselves?

Before your trip:

  • Schedule an appointment with a travel medicine clinic or your health-care provider at least 1 month before you depart. Talk to the doctor or nurse about vaccines and medicines recommended for your destination.  See the Find a Clinic webpage for help in finding a travel medicine clinic near you.
  • Consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance.
  • Pack your prescription and over-the-counter medicines (as well as other important supplies), as part of a travel health kit.
  • Familiarize yourself with local laws and social customs.
  • Monitor travel warnings and alerts from the US Department of State. Register your trip with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to get the latest safety and security information for your destination country.
  • Leave copies of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home in case you lose them during travel.

During your trip:

  • Follow security and safety guidelines. US travelers may be targets for criminals during mass gatherings.
    • If possible, don’t travel at night, avoid questionable areas, and travel with a companion.
    • If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. People are more likely to hurt themselves or other people, engage in risky sex, or get arrested when they have been drinking.
    • Carry a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp; leave the actual passport securely in your hotel.
    • Carry with you the contact information for the nearest US embassy or consulate and the emergency service numbers for your destination.
    • Follow all local laws and social customs.
    • Do not wear expensive clothing or jewelry, to avoid the risk of theft or loss.
    • Always keep hotel doors locked, and store valuables in secure areas.
    • If possible, choose hotel rooms on the second through the sixth floors. A room on the first floor of a hotel may provide easier access for criminals. Rooms on the seventh floor or above may be difficult to escape if there’s a fire.  
  • Prevent mosquito bites and use insect repellent. Diseases spread by mosquitoes (such as malariaZikadenguechikungunya, and Japanese encephalitis) are common throughout Asia. You can reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites. You may also need to take prescription medicine to protect against malaria or get a vaccine against Japanese encephalitis. Talk to your doctor or nurse about prevention steps that are right for you.
  • Follow food and water safety guidelines. Eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water can cause illnesses such as hepatitis Atyphoid fever, and travelers’ diarrhea. Read about how to prevent these diseases by visiting the food and water safety page on the Travelers’ Health website.
  • Use condoms to reduce your risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Carry condoms that you purchased in the United States and store them in a dry and cool place (out of direct sunlight). Read more about how to prevent STDs by visiting the Traveler STD page. Condoms can also reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex.
  • Do not touch birds, pigs, or other animals, and avoid farms and poultry markets. Bird flu viruses, such as H7N9 and H5N1, have been seen in China.
  • Choose safe transportation. Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries. Read about ways to prevent transportation injuries by visiting CDC’s International Road Safety page.
  • Reduce your exposure to germs. Wash your hands often, and avoid contact with people who are sick. Read more about reducing your exposure to germs in the Stay Healthy and Safe section of CDC’s page for your destination.

If you feel sick during your trip:

  • Talk to a doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.
  • For more information about medical care abroad, see Getting Health Care Abroad.
  • Avoid contact with other people while you are sick, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing utensils or cups.
  • Wash your hands often. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) to clean hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hand) when coughing or sneezing.

After your trip:

  • If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see Find a Clinic. Be sure to tell the doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. Also tell the doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling.
  • If your doctor prescribed antimalarial medicine for your trip, keep taking the rest of your pills after you return home. If you stop taking your medicine too soon, you could still get sick.
  • Malaria is always a serious disease and may be deadly. If you become ill with a fever either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to 1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the doctor about your travel history.
  • For more information, see Getting Sick after Travel.

Traveler Information

Clinician Information

  • Mass Gatherings in CDC Health Information for International Travel (“Yellow Book”)