Medical Maladies – Guide to Southeast Asian Ailments

Like it or not Ladies and Gentlemen, we can all fall foul of sickness when on the road. We certainly have. A sudden stop in your stride as the first wave of peristalsis crashes against the craggy rocks of your tattered insides. Through tumults of panic, you’re sprinting with clammy hands frantically working the complex mechanics of your lower garments. You burst through the toilet door, pants by ankles, murmuring platitudes of a forgotten religion as you clamp yourself barnacle-like to the seat of the toilet. And then – wide-eyed and carefree – you surrender yourself to the cacophonous sound of your shame-sodden release.

Sound familiar? Yes? Well if you think the pinnacle of your problems is hitting a type seven on the Bristol Stool Chart then silly you. But fear not, here at Travel Heavy we’re happy to lend a helping hand to preemptively mop up your mess with our comprehensive guide to South-East Asia’s medical maladies, ensuring the finale of your trip doesn’t .

DISCLAIMER: We’re not medical experts so remember that you bear the burden of personal responsibility. If in doubt, get some more information at the links provided at the bottom.



Man’s best friend.

Long before the internet troll there was the mosquito. And whilst travelling in Asia, dengue fever can be considered the mosquito’s cultural meme muddying the primordial soup. Leaping from human to human, the mosquito uses the body like an organic 4chan where lots of other like-minded mosquitoes can plugin and share in the bio-social revolution.

SYMPTOMS: An infusion of headaches and severe joint pain served piping hot on a bed of sweat-sodden sheets.


Dr. HEAVY MD says: Whilst they may not have that familiar toothy grin, they’re certainly smug as fuck. There’s no clear-cut prevention for this one but you can stop them rustling your jimmies by spraying yourself senseless in DEET. If you should stumble, popping paracetamol and a solid swig of water should see you through.


The NHS’s FitForTravel website states that Hepatitis A is transmitted via the, and I quote, ‘faecal-oral route’. Now I don’t know what you people are up to these days but it had better stop, now!  – if not for the sake of your livers then for the sake of decency and morality in this God-forsaken world.

SYMPTOMS: Vomiting, diarrhea and stabbing stomach pains – all your favourites. If you’re really lucky you might get a little mild jaundice.

PREVENTION: Vaccinations (free).

Dr. HEAVY MD says: I know the grey clouds of societal pressure are hanging heavy over you. And so they should. Shame on you should return from South-East Asia looking like an albino back from a weekend in Eastbourne. But if you catch yourself picking up a faint yellow tinge, that is most certainly not the first flourishes of a tan in bloom. Keep a close eye on how your food is prepared, if it smells funky then it quite simply is.


Okay, I can admit sex with your socks on can be like chow without chillies but your personal safety is imperative. You’re also not the only person to consider donating your behind to the celebration of back-alley artistry in a state of semi-conscious rebellion. Such decisions might be shits and giggles the next morning but the next six months of your life could be as unforgettable as the mangled Monarch on your arse.

SYMPTOMS: Hepatitis B loves a languishing liver. Transmitted through dirty needles, bad barbers and unprotected sex, expect the same symptoms as Hepatitis A but with a much harder punch.

PREVENTION: Vaccination (free).

Dr. HEAVY MD says: A spin of the wheel in life’s roulette can be bloody exhilarating but remember the house always wins, and seeing as the house is offering free vaccinations consider the odds stacked against you. So fix up, look sharp and gamble responsibly.


This sounds like it’s should be in a film with Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding Jnr. Sound awful? To be honest it is awful. And I’m not talking about the film. Japanese Encephalitis is passed on from pigs and water-birds in rice-paddies by the faithful mosquito in a kind of bio-medical handshake. Most prevalent in the wet season (May-October), it is very rare among travelers and really only of concern if you’re roughing it in rural areas for extensive periods of time.

SYMPTOMS: It’s very similar to those really shit fairground games where you choose which cup the ball is under. It is death, paralysis or survival? Whatever the outcome, the rules to this game are so confusing you’re likely to have a seizure before the end.

PREVENTION: Vaccination (£150-200)

Dr. HEAVY MD says: Why you would spend long stretches of time mucking it in rice paddies and piggeries is quite beyond me. Don’t talk to me about authentic experiences. Just purchase Harvest Moon to sate your love for swine. And you can grow as many crops as your porky fingers punching the keypad will allow. It’s wonderfully harmless fun showing that you can explore the relationship between agriculture and modern society without being scythed down by tropical disease. Well I say harmless but if you’ve read any Irvine Welsh, then playing the game may seem a whole lot more sinister.


One might call malaria the mantra of the mosquito, echoed as it is through the bodily malfunctions of some two hundred million people worldwide. As far as tropical diseases go it’s a parasite with quite some potency and if you’re not prepared your body is about to host a dinner party that just might be the death of you.

SYMPTOMS: Man, malaria gives me chills. It’s like I’m listening to Carlton Banks smoothing out ‘Jungle Fever’ all over again. Except I’m vomiting relentlessly, can’t control my rectum and the only beat I’m vibing is the jackhammer in my head.

PREVENTION: Tablets (Price variable)

Dr. HEAVY MD says: Battling hard with a fly swatter is beneficial and highly entertaining; however, slapping those suckers with the plastic hand of justice isn’t enough to dam the tide. Tablets are a must with Doxycycline or Malarone (depending on how shiny your shoes are) paramount to your arsenal of prevention. Top that up with DEET and a mosquito net, solider.

*Note: Contrary to belief, smearing yourself in garlic cloves does not deter mosquitoes. You just smell. Badly.


Dogs are lovable little creatures; Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus – they’re all so very cute when walking down a winding country lane in Lincolnshire but when travelling through South-East Asia one needs to be a great deal more wary. A nip or even a lick to a prior wound from a seemingly playful pup could have you unwittingly answering your own questions as to what would happen should there be feral zombies running around.

SYMPTOMS: Today’s forecast is high fevers running into storms of violent delirium, with a chance of hydrophobia and fatality guaranteed.

PREVENTION: Vaccination (£150-200).

Dr. HEAVY MD says: If you’re bitten whilst petting a pooch, a plaster and a kiss from Mummy just ain’t gonna cut it. And that vaccination is no cure, just an extension of time. You need to wash that wound as best you can and then with extreme haste get yourself some proper medical attention lest you want turn all 28 Days Later.


You might think that the closest encounter you’d have with typhoid would be whilst playing MECC’s 1974 adventure classic, The Oregon Trail – fun for all the family. It’s true that whilst there are less than five hundred cases each year in the UK, the same cannot be said for South-East Asia. Salmonella festering in your food and – God forbid – contact with fecal water brings this party to town.

SYMPTOMS: It’s pants by ankles and anchors away! The journey is fraught with fever and headaches, and for those who simply try to plough on through things can get far more serious.Bristol Stool Chart

PREVENTION: Vaccination (free).

Dr. HEAVY MD says: The vaccination is free so skimping is not saving. The vaccination alone isn’t 100% preventative so a solid hygiene regime should secure your well-being. Make sure your food is piping hot, and I don’t care how much you’ve been drinking or what you’ve been smoking, you wash after you wipe.

Useful Sites: – We know it’s not medical advice but it would be criminal not to link you to Carlton Banks.

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