The recent outbreak of the swine flu has caused a spike in travel to Europe. Travellers have returned from their trips with many different types of infections ranging from colds and coughs to the highly contagious avian influenza. It is important to keep yourself healthy on your travels to Europe. The first step in doing this is being familiar with the current epidemic and its many symptoms. Understanding the epidemiological situation for Europe will help you to better protect yourself against various opportunistic illnesses.
Traveling to Europe is a common sight in the United States. In some cases, Europeans are welcomed as immigrants while in other cases, they prefer to form close relationships with the people of the country you are visiting. For example, in Germany and Austria many European immigrants and German Americans can be seen in stores and restaurants as they interact with the native population. However, it is important to remember that in Greece and Italy, many citizens of these countries are welcoming American travelers with open arms. Therefore, while you may be able to look somewhat foreign in your new home, as long as you follow some basic etiquette when in public, you should be accepted as part of the local culture.
In addition to welcoming you with open arms, the local residents also expect you to be protected with sanitary habits when in their country. There are stringent rules regarding the wearing of protective clothing such as gowns and gloves when in public areas. Tourists who have chosen to travel to Europe should inquire about the different sanitary restrictions before leaving their destinations. Many European countries require that travelers obtain both the HPV vaccine and the vaccines required for travelers to be free of certain types of illnesses.
Some travelers to Europe choose to forego both the HPV vaccine and the Hepatitis C vaccination. If you do travel to these countries without obtaining one or the other of these mandatory vaccinations, you can be subjected to fines or jail time. Many of these European countries will not allow you entry at all unless you are fully vaccinated. This is particularly true of countries in eastern and central Europe, where anti-epidemics occur regularly.
The United States Department of State requires that all citizens traveling to Europe must be examined by the Department of Homeland Security prior to departure. If you are traveling to one of the seven countries in Europe that participate in the European Union, you will need a visa in order to enter the country. Once you have obtained a visa, you will need to stay in your intended destination for at least 72 hours, as well as obtain documentation from your travel doctor in order to stay in the country legally. Those who have an American passport and wish to stay in any of the European countries for a year or longer can apply for an E visa.
Those who have decided to travel to Europe as a group or on their own can take some safety precautions while they are abroad. Many European countries will closely monitor any US citizens traveling to Europe and will closely monitor any activities going on in those countries. You should avoid going to any cities with large populations of American tourists at the same time which may increase your chances of being stopped and searched by the authorities. It can also help to keep a first name and contact information with your travel guide so that you can be reunited with your companions in the event that you become separated for any reason. If possible, you should avoid visiting these cities during the most active tourist seasons.
There have been a few outbreaks of swine flu virus in recent years, but the World Health Organization has raised fears about a possible pandemic. This can be especially dangerous for travelers from the United States who have had previous exposure to the swine flu. Since it is a possibility, it is suggested that all travelers to Europe exercise a greater awareness of what to do if they become sick with the virus. Travelers can protect themselves by staying in touch with a local healthcare provider in their home country, even if they are traveling to Europe. This allows the traveler to be checked for any infections or symptoms and to receive the appropriate treatment quickly.
There are other precautions that travelers can take as well, such as not using non-medical hospitals, using caution when picking up children and taking care when traveling between countries. Travelers should also take care to pay particular attention to the vaccines recommended for travelers to certain countries. The Pandemic Swine Flu is currently a serious problem, but the threat of getting the virus if travelers travel to Europe is low. Although it may still be prudent for individuals to pay greater attention to their healthcare providers before traveling.