Few travellers to Victoria will experience anything worse than a bad hangover, but if you do fall ill the standard of hospitals and health care is high.
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Before You Go
Proof of yellow-fever vaccination is required only from travellers entering Australia within six days of having stayed overnight or longer in a yellow-fever-infected country. No specific vaccinations are required to travel in Victoria.
While the standard of health care in Australia is high and is not overly expensive by international standards, travel insurance should be considered essential for international travellers. Make sure you have appropriate coverage if you plan on doing any ‘dangerous’ activities such as skiing, rock climbing, diving or motorcycling.
Availability & Cost of Healthcare
Australia’s Medicare system (www.medicareaustralia.gov.au) covers Australian residents for some health-care costs and emergency care, with reciprocity for citizens of New Zealand, Belgium, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Malta and Ireland. Melbourne and the major provincial centres have high-quality hospitals.
Animal Bites & Stings
Flies & Mosquitoes
For four to six months of the year, you’ll have to cope with those two banes of the Australian outdoors: the fly and the mosquito (mozzie). Flies aren’t too bad in the city but they start getting out of hand in the country, and the further out you go, the more numerous and persistent they seem to be. Widely available repellents such as Aerogard and Rid may help to deter the little bastards, but don’t count on it. For something stronger, try the Bushman's DEET-based repellent.
Mozzies are a problem in summer, particularly for campers near water. Try to keep your arms and legs covered as soon as the sun goes down and use insect repellent liberally. Mosquito-borne illnesses are becoming more prevalent throughout the state. Ross River virus is transmitted through mosquitoes and cases have been reported throughout the state and recently in Melbourne metropolitan areas. It can cause influenza-like symptoms with fever and joint pain. Apply a DEET-based repellent and try to avoid getting bitten, particularly at dawn and dusk.
Bairnsdale ulcer (or Buruli ulcer) is a rare flesh-eating bacteria that has seen a spike in reported cases in recent years, mostly in the Bellarine Peninsula and Mornington Peninsula areas. While it's not known exactly what causes it, it's believed it may be carried by mosquitoes. The ulcer starts as a small sore and, if left untreated, can become a large lesion requiring surgery.
Ticks & Leeches
The common bush tick (found in the forest and scrub country all along Australia’s east coast) can be dangerous if left lodged in the skin, as the toxin excreted by the tick can cause partial paralysis and, in theory, death, although this is extremely rare. Check your body for lumps every night if you’re walking in tick-infested areas. Remove the tick by dousing it with methylated spirits or kerosene and levering it out, but make sure you remove it intact.
Leeches are common, but while they will suck your blood, they are not dangerous and are easily removed by the application of salt or heat.
Sunburn & Skin Cancer
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Don’t be fooled by Victoria’s variable weather and cloudy days – UV exposure here is as dangerous as anywhere in the country. If you’re going out in the summer sun, particularly at the beach, use 50-plus water-resistant sunscreen and wear a hat, sunglasses and shirt as much as possible.
Tap water is safe to drink throughout the state.