The health risk information presented here is summarized from Shoreland Travax®, a decision-support tool used by health care providers to perform a detailed health risk analysis based on specific locations, individual travel styles, and traveler risk behaviors. Travax provides practitioners current, independently researched malaria risk and prevention recommendations in a map-based format that goes beyond the annual WHO and CDC statements included here. Not included here are current reports from Travax of disease outbreaks or environmental events that may pose elevated risks to travelers’ health and safety. The Providers section of this site offers a directory of health care providers who utilize Shoreland Travax for travel health counseling. Learn more about the detailed reports and maps available from these practitioners (includes links to samples).
Bhutan is a developing nation in the lower half of the world's economies. Located in southern Asia and bordered by China and India, its climate varies with geography. Its climate is tropical in the southern plains; in the central valleys, winters are cool and summers are hot; and in the Himalayas, winters are severe and summers are cool.
See also: Library article for Yellow Fever
Although yellow fever does not occur in Bhutan, an official yellow fever vaccination certificate may be required depending on your itinerary.
- Requirement: A vaccination certificate is required for travelers coming from countries with risk of YF transmission. This also applies to all airport transit stops in risk countries.
Depending on your itinerary, your personal risk factors, and the length of your visit, your health care provider may offer you vaccination against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, Japanese encephalitis, measles, mumps, rubella, rabies, or typhoid fever. Routine immunizations, such as those that prevent tetanus/diphtheria or "childhood" diseases, should be reviewed and updated as needed.
See also: Library article for Malaria
The following is current information as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
WHO—International Travel and Health (current online update, Country List)(2013) Malaria risk exists throughout the year in the southern belt of the country, which is comprised of seven districts: Chukha, Dagana, Pemagatshel, Samdrup Jongkhar, Samtse, Sarpang and Zhemgang. No transmission occurs in the four following districts: Bumthang, Gasa, Paro and Thimphu. Seasonal transmission during the rainy summer months occurs in focal areas the rest of the country.
- Recommended prevention in risk areas and seasons: C – Risk of P. falciparum malaria, in combination with reported chloroquine and sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine resistance. Mosquito bite prevention plus atovaquone–proguanil or doxycycline or mefloquine chemoprophylaxis (select according to reported side effects and contraindications) a
aAlternatively, for travel to rural areas with low risk of malaria infection, mosquito bite prevention can be combined with stand–by emergency treatment (SBET).
WHO Country List footnote: When available, the date of the most recent update or confirmation is indicated in parentheses in the country list. If no date is indicated, the most recent update or confirmation was provided before 2013.
CDC—Health Information for International Travel (current online edition)Areas with malaria: Rare cases in rural areas < 1,700 m (5,577 ft) in districts along the southern border shared with India. Rare seasonal cases May– September in Ha, Lhuentse, Monggar, Punakha, Trashigang, Trongsa, Tsirang, Yangtse, and Wangdue. None in districts of Bumthang, Gaza, Paro, and Thimphu.
- Estimated relative risk of malaria for US travelers: Very low.
- Drug resistance4: Chloroquine.
- Malaria species: P. falciparum 70%, P. vivax 30%.
- Recommended chemoprophylaxis: Mosquito avoidance only.
4 Refers to P. falciparum malaria unless otherwise noted.
See also: Library article for Travelers' Diarrhea
High risk exists throughout the country, with moderate risk in deluxe accommodations. Food and beverage precautions may reduce the likelihood of illness.
Travelers should carry loperamide for self-treatment of diarrhea and, if risk is moderate to high, an antibiotic to add if diarrhea is severe. Consult a knowledgeable health care provider regarding which antibiotic is appropriate for you and most effective for your destination.
Insect- and Arthropod-Borne Diseases
Other Disease and Health Risks
The material below includes information from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), as well as from additional open-source material. Standard safety precautions that apply to all international travel can be found in the Library article Safety and Security.
No intrinsic risk of attack by terrorist groups exists, but unforeseen attacks are possible.
Low risk of violent crime (armed robbery and sexual assault) and petty crime exists throughout the country.
High risk of traffic-related injury or death exists. The road-traffic death rate is 12 to 24 per 100,000 population. The rate is less than 10 in most high-income countries. Speed laws are poorly enforced. Driving at night is not advised. Seek local advice before traveling on roads outside urban areas after dark.
Traffic flows on the left-hand side of the road. Travelers (including drivers and pedestrians) accustomed to traffic moving on the opposite side should be vigilant when navigating traffic.
The monsoon season is from May through October. Floods, mudslides, and landslides may occur.
Seismic activity frequently occurs.
Selected Embassies or Consulates in Bhutan
- United States: The U.S. does not have an embassy or consulate in Bhutan.
- Canada: Canada does not have an embassy or consulate in Bhutan.
- United Kingdom: [+975] 1761-8553; ukinbhutan.bt
- Australia: Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Bhutan.
Bhutan's Embassies or Consulates in Selected Countries
- In the U.S.: Bhutan does not have an embassy or consulate in the U.S.
- In Canada: Bhutan does not have an embassy or consulate in Canada.
- In the U.K.: [+44] 1483 538 189
- In Australia: [+61] 02 9394 3113
HIV and hepatitis testing are required to obtain a tourist (for stays > 2 weeks), work, or residence visa.