Health Risks of European Travel
How many of us know that European travel can pose a threat to our health? Health risks aren’t normally associated with European travel – we think of quick flights and familiar cultures so assume we’ll be relatively safe on short-haul holidays. However, there are actually several diseases to watch out for, especially if you are not vaccinated.
Stay aware of these key diseases so that you can prepare properly to have a safe and happy holiday.
Four illnesses to be aware of when holidaying in Europe:
- Measles continues to spread within and throughout Europe this year. Large outbreaks of the disease have occurred, and it is thought that the drop in vaccination coverage within populations is responsible. Countries that are currently reporting outbreaks of measles include: AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, BULGARIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, FRANCE, GERMANY, HUNGARY, ICELAND, ITALY, PORTUGAL, ROMANIA SPAIN, SWEDEN.
- Measles is a highly contagious virus which can have life-threatening complications.
- International travel has played a large factor in the international spread of measles.
2. Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE)
- TBE season has begun in Europe this summer. TBE is a viral infection spread through the infected bite of a tick.
- TBE effects areas of northern and Eastern Europe, Russia and even China.
- Those at highest risk of the diseases are those that intend to spend time in rural forested areas during spring summer and autumn where ticks are present. Activities such as camping and hiking and cycling increase the risk.
- Those who are travelling to areas of transmission can minimise the risk of the disease by taking strict precautions against tick bites.
3. Hepatitis A
- Europe has seen an increase in Hepatitis A cases this year. The virus is spread through contaminated food and water.
- The highest risk countries are those in Eastern Europe, the Baltics, the Balkans and Turkey, but in recent months Germany and Portugal have seen an increase in cases.
- Rabies is virus-spread through the bite of an infected mammal. The virus is almost always fatal if left untreated. Animals that can spread this disease include dogs, cats, bats, foxes and wolves.
- Eastern Europe poses the highest risk of rabies in Europe.
- Travellers at highest risk include those who plan on travelling to remote areas.
Vaccines can prevent travel-related illnesses
The good news is that all these diseases are vaccine preventable and can be avoided by organising vaccines before you travel.
Measles – All travellers should ensure that they have had at least 2 doses of vaccinations against measles. This is usually given as a routine vaccination in childhood (MMR vaccine) at 1 year of age, and then again as a pre-school booster
Tick-Borne Encephalitis – vaccination against the disease is available for individuals aged 1 year and above. It requires 2 vaccination 2 weeks apart.
Hepatitis A – A highly effective vaccination is available against Hepatitis A and can be given to children from 1 year of age. Once the schedule of 2 Hepatitis A vaccinations has been given, immunity lasts for 25 years.
Rabies – a vaccine-preventable disease which requires three doses of vaccination to be given prior to departure. Those who have not received the vaccination with potential exposure to rabies require more extensive treatment which is not always accessible.
Travel Vaccinations at Fleet Street Clinic
Fleet Street Clinic is a leading vaccination centre and offers all travel vaccinations at our clinic in the heart of London.
By Anna Chapman, Travel Nurse at Fleet Street Clinic