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Potential health hazards in travelers to Australia, New Zealand, and the southwestern Pacific (Oceania)

Malcolm McDonald, PhD, FRACP, FRCPA
Michael J Richards, MD, FRACP
Sally Roberts, MBChB, FRACP, FRCPA
Section Editor
Karin Leder, MBBS, FRACP, PhD, MPH, DTMH
Deputy Editor
Elinor L Baron, MD, DTMH


The region of Australia, New Zealand, and the southwestern Pacific (Oceania) encompasses a remarkable diversity of geography, racial groups, cultures, technologic sophistication, and political systems. The region may be divided into three subdivisions; there is considerable overlap between these areas (figure 1):

Temperate Australia and New Zealand – Most Australians live in coastal temperate regions with sophisticated medical services with good communications. This is also the case for both the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

Tropical and central Australia – The center of the continent and areas north of the tropic of Capricorn, called the "far north," are sparsely populated. There are large distances between population centers, and travel routes often pass through relatively inhospitable country. This is a unique environment with distinct patterns of disease and fairly basic medical services [1].

Oceania – Oceania includes the following countries in the southwest Pacific: Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, United States Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, Wake Island, Wallis, and Futuna. Centers with busy tourist traffic often have adequate medical services, but many communities have only rudimentary services and are separated by long distances with irregular transport.

Issues related to travel to Australia, New Zealand, and the southwestern Pacific will be reviewed here.


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