Papua New Guinea

Travellers visit our tropical northern neighbor for a variety of reasons – to trek the Kokoda trail, on a cruise to dive, or for mining related or humanitarian work.

The following information provides some broad and general guidelines about health risks and recommendations for travel to PNG. This should not be taken as a substitute for a personal consultation with one of our travel health doctors, whose advice will be specific for you and your trip and may include other issues not mentioned here.

  • Plan Head - Calendar/Itinerary?

    Six to eight weeks out from departure is a good time to have a travel health consultation. You may need blood tests to check immunity to diseases or need a course of vaccines like rabies for example, and this gives you plenty of time to get everything completed. If you are travelling sooner however it's not too late for an appointment, simply make one as soon as you can.

  • Mosquito's and Bugs

    In PNG mozzies transmit a number of viruses. These include dengue fever, chikungunya and zika (which may cause birth defects in pregnant women), and Japanese encephalitis (JE). Vaccines exists only for JE. All of these viruses are preventable by taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Malaria risk is high everywhere except the highlands.

  • Eating/Drinking

    Travellers diarrhoea, giardia and dysentery are just some of the illnesses caused by contaminated food and water. Tap water in PNG is not safe to drink.

  • Vaccine Recommendations

    Travellers should be up to date for routine childhood vaccines such as tetanus, measles and hepatitis B. Any of the following vaccines may also be recommended – hepatitis A, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, cholera, influenza. Decisions regarding which vaccines are most appropriate depend on duration and nature of travel, itinerary, age, underlying medical conditions and past vaccination.

List of Common Health Issues

  • Hepatitis A

    Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for travel to PNG.

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  • Typhoid

    A food and water borne disease, typhoid vaccination is often recommended.

  • Japanese encephalitis

    It's important to understand how to avoid this rare but potentially catastrophic mosquito borne disease. For those at significant risk there are a couple of vaccine options.

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  • Dengue fever

    Increasing in incidence in many parts of the world, dengue is a serious mosquito borne disease.

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  • Malaria

    PNG is one of the highest risk countries in the world. Mosquito avoidance is essential – use DEET containing mosquito repellents, keep skin covered from dusk till dawn, sleep under nets or in mosquito-proof accommodation and pre-treat clothes with permethrin. Preventative medication is nearly always recommended and should be discussed with one of our doctors. There are various options. Any fever within a couple of months of return from PNG requires an urgent blood test to exclude malaria, even if preventive medication has been taken, as it is not 100% effective. Early treatment can be life-saving.

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  • Kokoda Trail issues

    A medical check-up is recommended prior to this strenuous trek due to the potential physical and psychological stress of heat, humidity and steep climbing through the remote Owen Stanley ranges. Adequate preparation is essential – this includes getting as fit as possible for hill climbing, wearing in footwear, and preparing an adequate medical and first aid kit. Common problems include exhaustion, dehydration, overhydration, heatstroke, tropical skin infections and any of the issues listed above. Evacuation from the track can be extremely challenging.

  • Travellers’ diarrhoea

    Observe strict food and water safety precautions with good hygiene a must. Consider taking a water filter and well stocked self treatment kit with guidelines for treatment. Seek evacuation back to Australia for persistent or severe illness, particularly for infants, the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions. Medical facilities in PNG are best avoided.

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  • Cholera

    An oral vaccine available for the prevention of cholera which also reduces the risk of travellers diarrhoea, is often taken by those wishing to significantly reduce their risk of gastro.

  • Zika

    Not just a disease of South America, Zika virus is found in many other countries, including PNG.

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  • Marine risks

    Coral cuts, box jellyfish, stonefish and sea urchins all pose a risk to divers . Seek local advice and be aware of the appropriate first aid for each of these risks.

Latest Health Alerts

  • COVID 19 (Coronavirus)

    March 29, 2020

    As there is no non-essential overseas travel at this time this article will simply remain as an information resource for COVID-19. See our main COVID-19 page for more detailed information. We hope to be able to inform our travelers once again after this crisis passes. The links below remain trustworthy

  • Sri Lanka – Dengue Fever

    January 9, 2020

    Over 48,000 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Sri Lanka since 1st October 2019, a significant increase in incidence. Travellers should observe strict mosquito avoidance measures, particularly during daylight hours.

  • Solomon Islands – proof of measles vaccination required

    December 19, 2019

    As a result of recent outbreaks of measles in various countries, the Solomon Islands' will be requiring arriving travellers from/via American Samoa, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Philippines, Samoa, or Tonga to show proof of measles vaccination, effective December 28th 2019. Vaccination needs to have been at least 15 days prior and