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 classified as lower middle income. Located in southern Asia (east of India and south of China), the climate is classified as dry summer in the south, with cooler temperatures in some high-altitude areas (in the north).
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)(2019) Malaria risk exists throughout the year in the southern belt of the country, which comprises 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 in 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.
- Drug resistance3 : Chloroquine.
- Malaria species: P. falciparum 70%, P. vivax 30%.
- Recommended chemoprophylaxis: None (practice mosquito avoidance).
3 Refers to P. falciparum malaria unless otherwise noted.
4 Primaquine and tafenoquine can cause hemolytic anemia in people with G6PD deficiency. Patients must be screened for G6PD deficiency before starting primaquine or tafenoquine. See Tafenoquine Approved for Malaria Prophylaxis and Treatment for more information.
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, sexual assault, and assault) and low risk of petty crime exist 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.
Structural standards for vehicles may not meet international standards.
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
- Australia: Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Bhutan.
Bhutan's Embassies or Consulates in Selected Countries
- In the U.S.: [+1] 212-682-2268
- 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.