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Cairns Health

Living in the tropics is blissfully enjoyable. At times it does get hot and yes, there are more insects than in the colder climates. To really enjoy a visit to Cairns there are a few health care tips to take into consideration. These are the same as for any tropical destination in the world.

Dehydration
Due to the high temperatures and high humidity in North Queensland it is essential to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Always carry water with you and ensure that you have access to between one and two litres per day. Soft drinks, alcohol and tea and coffee tend to make you dehydrate faster. The water is safe to drink straight from the tap in Australia however most major travel organisations and health care professionals recommend drinking bottled water when away from your home to avoid gastrointestinal problems.

Cuts and Abrasions
Minor cuts and lacerations can become infected very fast in the tropics. Any form of cut, scratch, laceration or bite should be washed thoroughly and an antiseptic applied. Coral cuts are especially prone to infections. All Great Barrier Reef tour operators have a good supply of antiseptic creams and lotions on board the vessels. If If a cut starts to swell, turns red and becomes sore or hot to touch, seek medical advice quickly.

Insect Bites
Further to the risk of infections is the fact that mosquitoes can carry diseases anywhere. In the tropic mosquitoes and other biting insects tend to thrive. Always keep insect repellent on you and use it generously around sunrise and sunset. Burning mosquito coils at night will help to keep insects outside if you are in a room without screens. Always check with your hotel staff or tour operators about insects.

Sunburn
This is a major problem in the tropics. Depending on your skin you can start to burn within a few minutes. Always cover yourself generously with maximum strength sun block, repeating regularly, even on overcast days. When visiting the Great Barrier Reef remember to use sun block on the back of your legs, the back of your neck and the tops of your feet - all places that are prone to sun burn but are easily forgotten. Sun block is available in various forms including creams, lotions, sprays and gel in Cairns. In Australia we have a campaign called "Slip, slop and slap - slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat" to encourage children to become more aware of sunburn and the resulting skin cancer.

Medical Facilities
Medical facitllies are generally very good in Australia. Apart from being a safe country to travel in there are relatively few illnesses that are likely to affect travellers.

Cairns has two major hospitals. One is a public facility called The Cairns Base Hospital and the other is a private facility called the Calvary Hospital. Both have emergency facilities that are considered world class.

There are numerous surgeries and clinics located in the Cairns area. Many of these have staff who are bilingual. A number of the CBD clinics operate 24 hours per day and some Doctors will visit hotels anytime day or night to call on sick tourists.

If you are travelling on to other destinations the medical facilities in Cairns can advise you as to what vaccinations may be required. It is also wise to check on whether or not you can take prescribed medication into your next country of travel. Many Asian countries in particular have strong laws regarding the importation of prescription drugs. It is better to check it out rather than face a fine or imprisonment.

Many people travel to Cairns to learn how to SCUBA dive. Before starting a dive course you are required to undergo a comprehensive medical examination. There are medical clinics set up in Cairns that specialise in performing these examinations.

Once again check with your hotel for the closest Doctor or medical facility during your stay. If you have specific medical requirements or a medical condition ensure that someone travelling with you is aware of your condition or make sure that you have a note in your personal belongings that emergency services staff could easily find if necessary.

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