There is no universally accepted definition of which countries constitute Eastern Europe. The Lonely Planet guide to this region includes European countries to the east of Germany, Swizerland and Italy. These countries are culturally diverse, rich in history, and are generally less developed than their western European counterparts.
The following information provides some broad and general guidelines about health risks and recommendations for travel to Eastern Europe. This should not be taken as a substitute for a personal consultation with one of our travel health doctors, whose advice will be specific for you and your trip and may include other issues not mentioned here.
Most Common Health Issues
Respiratory and Gastrointestinal Illness
Observe strict food and water safety precautions and practice good hand hygiene in Eastern Europe. Consider taking a well stocked medical-kit with guidelines for self-treatment – medical facilities may not be up to western standard, especially in rural areas, and there may be language difficulties. Seek medical advice if persistent or severe illness and consider evacuation to Western Europe / United Kingdom, particularly for infants, the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions. Flu and pneumonia vaccine should be considered, especially for travel in the northern winter, the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions.
Be sensible. Many accidents are alcohol related. Wear helmets on bikes/ motorbikes. Have adequate insurance.
Because of the long flight between Australia and Europe, all travellers should take steps to avoid deep vein thrombosis, including adequate hydration and avoidance of prolonged immobilisation. Some individuals are at high risk and need to take additional measures such as wearing compression stockings or taking blood thinning medication.
More of a nuisance than anything else in Eastern Europe particularly for those hiking and/or camping around lakes in the warmer months – take insect repellent.
HIV and other STD’s
Rates are higher than in Western Europe, so avoid the risk.
Tick borne encephalitis
Mainly a risk to those hiking extensively in certain areas, long sleeve clothing and careful removal of ticks reduces risk. In Australia vaccination is not readily available but can be arranged by special order and must be started well in advance of travel to be effective.
Travellers should be up to date for routine childhood vaccines such as tetanus, measles/mumps/rubella and hepatitis B. The following vaccines may also be recommended –influenza, pneumococcal vaccine, hepatitis A, rabies or tick- borne encephalitis (for hikers/campers). Decisions regarding which are most appropriate depend on duration and nature of travel, itinerary, age, underlying medical conditions and past vaccinations.