Travel Health Advice for Fiji
Fiji comprises an archipelago of 330 volcanic tropical islands, some of which are quite remote and underdeveloped compared to the main Islands of Vitu Levu, where most of the population lives. The country has strong mining, forrestry, fishing and tourism industries. Common reason for Australians to travel include brief stopovers as a part of a Pacific cruise, family resort holidays, diving trips and school group trips to help in orphanages and schools. These islands are prone to cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis. Australians may also travel for aid work post natural disaster.
The following information provides some broad and general guidelines about health risks and recommendations for travel to these islands. 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.
Most Common Health Issues
Travellers’ Diarrhoea & Respiratory Illness
Observe strict food and water safety precautions – tap water is often not safe to drink. Observe good hand hygiene and consider the flu vaccine, particularly on cruises. Consider taking a water filter if travelling remote and a well stocked kit with guidelines for treatment. Seek medical advice if persistent or severe illness, particularly for infants, the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions.
Mosquitos and tropical viruses
In Fiji mozzies transmit a number of viruses which have been on the increase due to global warming, changing environments and human travel. These include dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika (which may cause birth defects in pregnant women). All of these viruses are preventable by taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites during the daytime through use of DEET based repellents.
Coral cuts, box jellyfish, stonefish and sea urchins all pose a risk to swimmers, divers and snorkelers. Seek local advice for prevention and immediate first aid for treatment. Seafood poisoning (ciguatera toxin) can be avoided by not eating large reef fish, such as snapper, groper, and barracuda (even if well cooked). For dive emergencies there is a hyperbaric chamber in Suva.
This traditional national drink, made from the ground roots of a member of the pepper family, is frequently offered to tourists. It induces a feeling of pleasant relaxation and is probably generally safe, however interactions with prescription medications, particularly psychoactive substances, are unpredictable. It should probably also be avoided in combination with alcohol, in pregnancy and breastfeeding and in those with serious medical conditions.
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 – hep A, typhoid and influenza. Recently (in 2018) there has been an upsurge in meningitis in young people in Fiji. Vaccination with the quadravalent meningitis ACWY vaccine may be recommended for certain travellers. Decisions regarding which are most appropriate depend on duration and nature of travel, itinerary, age, underlying medical conditions and past vaccination.