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Diseases potentially acquired by travel to East Asia

David Murdoch, MD, MSc, DTM&H, FRACP, FRCPA, FFSc(RCPA)
Section Editor
Karin Leder, MBBS, FRACP, PhD, MPH, DTMH
Deputy Editor
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH


The countries within the East Asia region include China, Japan, North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea), South Korea (Republic of Korea), Mongolia, and Taiwan (figure 1). This is an area of diverse geography, from the high mountains, plateau, steppes, and desert of the West to forested regions of the East and tropical rain forests in the South. There are several areas within this region, such as Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan, where the health risks do not differ appreciably from Western Europe, North America, and Australia.

Diseases potentially acquired by travel to East Asia are discussed here. Diseases associated with travel to Southeast Asia are discussed separately. (See "Diseases potentially acquired by travel to Southeast Asia".)


Malaria — China, North Korea, and South Korea are the only countries in the region with malaria-endemic areas. Plasmodium vivax has reemerged along the demilitarized zone in the Korean Peninsula over recent decades, thus far presenting minimal risk to tourists [1,2].

The risk of malaria in China is restricted to certain rural areas, including P. falciparum malaria in Yunnan and Hainan, and limited risk of P. vivax malaria in southern and some central provinces, including Anhui, Ghuizhou, Henan, Hubei, and Jiangsu.

Chloroquine resistance occurs in southern China, Hainan Island, and provinces bordering Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. In these regions, mefloquine is the prophylactic agent of choice. In other malarious areas, chloroquine alone can be used. (See "Prevention of malaria infection in travelers" and "Diseases potentially acquired by travel to Southeast Asia".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 15, 2017.
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