China Health Care and Vaccinations
Medical services tend to be offered through local hospitals rather than private clinics, but tourists are advised to have travel insurance which covers medical costs as many hospitals will expect payment in cash before giving treatment. Costs at local hospitals are low and standards vary. Travellers are advised to take a friend who can translate if going to a local hospital, as many of the medical staff will not understand English. Medical facilities in international hospitals (these are located in the bigger cities) are much better and many common drugs are available over the counter. Traditional Chinese medicine treatments are also used widely in China, such as acupuncture, meridian massage, cupping and herbal medications.
Food and Drink
All water used for drinking, brushing teeth or freezing should first be boiled or otherwise sterilised. Bottled water, widely and cheaply available, is the most advisable way of getting around this. Be especially careful when eating at small street-side stalls or restaurants where standards of hygiene may not be high. Pork, salad, scallops, snails and mayonnaise may carry increased risk. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Vaccinations against tuberculosis and Japanese encephalitis are sometimes advised. Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is endemic in the central Yangtze river basin. Avoid swimming and paddling in fresh water. Hepatitis E is prevalent in northeastern and northwestern China and hepatitis B is highly endemic. Sporadic outbreaks of avian influenza (bird flu) have resulted in a small number of human deaths. Rabies is present. If bitten, medical advice should be sought immediately. There are occasional outbreaks of dengue fever. In 2010 China lifted its restrictions preventing HIV-infected visitors from travelling there.