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The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in Western
Europe depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay.
For most areas of this region, you should observe health precautions similar
to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.
Travelers' diarrhea, the number one illness in travelers, can
be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which can contaminate food
or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting , fever, or liver
damage. Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.
A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for
entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries
in tropical South America or subSaharan Africa. (There is no risk for
yellow fever in Western Europe.) For detailed information, see Yellow
Fever Comprehensive Vaccination Requirements.
Tickborne encephalitis, a viral infection of the central nervous system,
occurs chiefly in Central and Western Europe. Travelers are at
risk who visit or work in forested areas during the summer months and
who consume unpasteurized dairy products. The vaccine for this disease
is not available in the United States at this time. To prevent tickborne
encephalitis, as well as Lyme disease, travelers should take precautions
to prevent tick bites.
CDC Recommends the Following
Vaccines (as Appropriate for Age):
See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to
allow time for shots to take effect.
Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). You are not at
increased risk in Northern and Western Europe, but there is
some risk in Southern Europe and the countries bordering the Mediterranean,
as well as Portugal.
Hepatitis B, if you might be exposed to blood (for
example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population,
stay longer than 6 months in Southern Europe, or be exposed through
As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria. Hepatitis
B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12
years who did not complete the series as infants.
All travelers should take the following
precautions, no matter the destination:
Wash hands often with soap and water.
Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among
travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid travel at night if possible
and always use seat belts.
Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually
Don’t eat or drink dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
Don’t share needles with anyone.
Never eat undercooked ground beef and poultry, raw eggs, and unpasteurized
dairy products. Raw shellfish is particularly dangerous to persons who
have liver disease or compromised immune systems.
Travelers to rural or undeveloped
areas should take the following precautions:To
Stay Healthy, Do:
Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks
in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.
If this is not possible, make water safer by BOTH filtering through
an "absolute 1-micron or less" filter AND adding iodine tablets
to the filtered water. "Absolute 1-micron filters" are found
in camping/outdoor supply stores.
Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have
peeled yourself. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
Protect yourself from insects by remaining in well-screened areas,
using repellents (applied sparingly at 4-hour intervals), and wearing
long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into boots or socks as a deterrent
To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry,
and do not go barefoot.
To Avoid Getting Sick:
Don’t eat food purchased from street vendors. Do not drink beverages
Don’t handle animals (especially monkeys, dogs, and cats), to avoid
bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague).
What You Need To Bring with
Insect repellent containing DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide), in 30%–35%
strength for adults and 6%–10% for children. The insecticide permethrin
applied to clothing is an effective deterrent to ticks.
Over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicine to take if you have diarrhea.
Iodine tablets and water filters to purify water if bottled water
is not available.
Sunblock, sunglasses, hat.
Prescription medications: make sure you have enough to last during
your trip, as well as a copy of the prescription(s).
After You Return Home:
If you become ill after your trip—even as long as a year after you return—tell
your doctor where you have traveled.
For More Information:
This document is not a complete medical guide for travelers to this region.
Consult with your doctor for specific information related to your needs
and your medical history; recommendations may differ for pregnant women,
young children, and persons who have chronic medical conditions. In addition,
you may also check the following CDC sites: