With its rich history, phenomenal landscapes, and sumptuous cuisine, Turkey appeals to travelers worldwide. Whether you plan to marvel at Istanbul's magnificent mosques, swim in the azure waters of the Mediterranean, or hike in the breathtaking valleys of Cappadocia, a sense of preparation and safety, particularly in health matters, is always a plus. In this article, we'll walk you through some health precautions you need to be aware of when travelling to Turkey.
Prior to travel, be sure you're up to date on routine vaccines. These may include MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and your yearly flu shot.
If you plan to partake in outdoor activities in rural areas or anticipate being in close contact with animals, it is recommended to get the Rabies vaccination. Also, some travelers might be advised to take Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines, which can help prevent foodborne diseases. It's best to discuss your plans with your healthcare provider to determine which vaccines are suitable for you.
Whilst Turkish cuisine is one of the richest and most palatable in the world, 'Delhi belly' or 'Montezuma's revenge' can strike anywhere, even in the streets of Istanbul. Stick to food that is properly covered, freshly cooked, and served hot. Avoid raw or undercooked seafood and meat.
Tap water, although treated and chlorinated in Turkey, might contain different microorganisms than your system is used to. Therefore, it's safer to stick to bottled water. Also, use bottled water even while brushing your teeth.
Especially in the summer months, Turkey can get quite hot. The interior of the country tends to be even hotter than the coastal regions due to the lack of the sea breeze. It's vital to protect yourself by applying a high SPF sunscreen, wearing sunglasses and hats, and staying hydrated. Wearing loose, lightweight clothing also helps cope with the heat.
Mosquitoes are common, particularly in coastal areas. Although the risk of contracting diseases like malaria or dengue from mosquitoes in Turkey is low, insect bites can still cause discomfort and potentially serious infections or allergies. Using DEET-based insect repellents, covering exposed skin, especially during early evenings and nights when mosquitoes are most active, and sleeping under nets, if necessary, can prevent bites.
Road traffic accidents are not uncommon in Turkey, so if you plan to drive, take extreme caution. Make sure you follow all local road regulations. As a pedestrian, be extra vigilant while crossing the road as the drivers might not be accustomed to giving way to those on foot.
Before embarking on your journey to Turkey, check whether your health insurance covers international travel. If not, consider purchasing additional travel healthcare insurance as healthcare in Turkey, especially private healthcare, can be expensive.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, special rules might apply to your trip. Monitor the updates by the World Health Organization and the Turkish Ministry of Health, and follow all precautions and preventative measures. This may include wearing face masks, maintaining social distance, and following hygiene practices.Seasonal Influenza
Seasonal influenza occurs throughout the world. The flu season in Turkey usually runs from November to April. If you're planning on traveling during this time, it's advisable to get a flu shot at least two weeks prior to departure.
If you experience traveler's diarrhea, it is important to stay hydrated. Drinking water with rehydration salts and taking over-the-counter medication can help. If symptoms continue for more than a few days or are severe, seek medical attention.
If you're on medication, bring sufficient supplies along with a copy of the prescription. Note that some medicines available over the counter or by prescription in your country may be illegal or not available in Turkey.
Turkey has both private and state hospitals. The quality of healthcare varies, with private hospitals generally offering higher quality services and English-speaking staff. In emergencies, call 112, Turkey's universal emergency number.
Though Turkey is widely considered a safe travel destination, taking these health precautions will ensure you a smoother, worry-free trip. Before flying, consult your healthcare provider, sensibly plan your vacations, and follow a routine of cleanliness and prudence while indulging in local Turkish hospitality and culture.