- Leonardo Da Vinci
Despite common belief tropical diseases are NOT the most common illnesses in Cambodia. Travelers most frequently suffer from diarrhoea, sunstroke and dehydration. Although these afflictions can be very unpleasant and can disrupt your holiday, they are not lethal and can be avoided by following a few preventive measures (see our FAQ page for more info).
A more serious disease is Malaria. It is caused by infection with a parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, which is spread by the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito (males do not feed on blood). The female mosquito bites at night and after being bitten by an infected insect, the parasite incubates in the human's liver for a period of two weeks, to several months (occasionally years), causing fever, and sometimes coma and death. It is advisable to consider anti-malarial measures and to visit your doctor for expert advice before traveling to Cambodia. For more information visit our
Dengue fever is more common than Malaria, although less serious. It is caused by a virus spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which tends to bite during the day. The incubation period is 3-7 days, after which fever, headache, muscle and joint pains develop. Within a few days the illness usually resolves itself and serious complications are uncommon. In a few cases dengue can progress to a haemorrhagic form with shock, which can be fatal. There is no specific treatment for dengue fever and the best way to avoid the illness is to prevent mosquito bites. Please see the Fitfortravel website for further information.
Finally there is a low risk of Japanese encephalitis and filariasis although it is highly uncommon amongst travelers and the risk is in the most remote areas of the country.
Realistically we've never heard of a guest catching anything other than a stomach upset. We've also never met an expat in Siem Reap or Phnom penh who has had Malaria, although a few have had dengue.
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