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Health and Medication

Diarrhea is a concern for travelers in China. It can be caused by eating contaminated fruits and vegetables or drinking contaminated water. It is important that any fruit eaten raw are cleaned very well and peeled. Even grapes need to be peeled. Contaminated water is a major cause of diarrhea, so stay away from ice, uncooked food, and unpasteurized milk and milk products. It is recommended that you drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for at least 20 minutes. Bottled water is widely available throughout China, even in the countryside. As a precaution, it is recommended you bring water purification tablets, just in case you cannot find bottled water in some of the more remote areas of China. Mild cases of diarrhea may respond to Imodium (known generically as loperamide) or Pepto-Bismol (not as strong), both of which can be purchased over the counter. Do NOT buy prescription drugs in China, as its quality control is unreliable. Ask your doctor for an anti-diarrheal prescription to take with you. Drink plenty of purified water or chamomile tea is a good folk remedy. In severe cases, rehydrate yourself with a salt-sugar solution (1/2 teaspoon salt and 4 tablespoons sugar per quart of water).

Pneumonia and influenza are concerns among travelers to China. It is recommended that you get inoculations for both before you leave home. Be sure you're well rested and healthy to begin with. According to the National Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there is limited risk of hepatitis A and B, typhoid, polio, malaria, tuberculosis, dengue fever, tetanus, and rabies in small cities and rural areas. In most urban or easily accessible areas you need not worry. However, if you plan to visit remote regions or stay for more than six weeks, check with the CDC's International Travelers Hotline. In areas where malaria and dengue, both of which are carried by mosquitoes, are prevalent, use mosquito nets, wear clothing that covers the body, apply insect repellent containing DEET, and use spray for flying insects in living and sleeping areas. Also consider taking anti-malaria pills.

It is extremely important that you bring enough prescription medication to last your entire China tour! You will not be able to refill prescriptions once in China, so please bring what you will need for your stay.

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