Greece is home to a multitude of ancient ruins, museums, and historical sites that draw 16.4 million tourists annually. Greece is the 16th most popular tourist destination for Americans, and is a trip that tourists describe as breathtakingly beautiful. Activities popular to Americans include swimming, fishing and water sports, mountain climbing, sightseeing, exploring cities filled with uniform white walls and blue accents and wandering through ancient Grecian shopping districts.
Witnessing firsthand the lively local culture that is completely unique to other Western European countries is an awesome experience, but comes with the danger of communicable diseases. Greece is a highly traveled tourist destination, with history as a gateway between the Middle East, Asia and Western Europe. Influences from so many different places have enriched not only the culture, but has also lent Greece very good medical technology and cleanliness standards.
While standards of health in Greece are certainly up to those of other European countries, the Centers for Disease Control do advise travels to be current on all booster shots, take preventative doses of anti-malarial drugs if going into affected areas, and get inoculated against certain diseases before coming to Greece, or any of the surrounding countries.
Regular vaccines that need to be made current before traveling include DTP, MMR, polio, influenza and varicella. The Centers for Disease Control advise all travelers who may have contact with blood or body fluids, or may have intimate sexual contact with a native to Greece to become inoculated for Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is an infection that can lead to permanent and degenerative liver disease or cancer. A short series of shots must be taken in order to gain full protection from this disease.
Even in the cleanest countries and most idyllic locations, there is a risk of contracting rabies from a wild animal. Rabies is contracted by animal bites and scratches, or skin tears coming into contact with the rabies causing bacteria. The rabies virus can live within the body for months, where the carrier has no signs of the illness. Then, symptoms begin to show. By this time, it is too late to treat the disease, and it is almost always fatal.
Malaria is not necessarily common in Greece; there have been cases of the disease and occasional outbreaks. NYC Travel Clinic can prescribe anti-malarial drugs to you if you plan on venturing into areas where there is a known outbreak. You can also take steps to avoid mosquito and tick borne illnesses by using insect repellants containing a high DEET percentage, donning long sleeved protective shirts and other protective clothing and avoid hanging out around sites that are infested with mosquitos.
Speak with Dr. Gafanovich about your travel plans and how to avoid catching tick-borne encephalitis, Leishmaniasis, Variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob’s Disease, trichinosis, Hepatitis A, avian flu (H5N1), and other diseases which can affect tourists visiting Western Europe and Greece.
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Traveling outside of USA and concerned about your health? Travel vaccinations are recommended for many destinations. Find out about the requirements and talk to a physician.
Dr. Gafanovich is a top rated New York City Internist (Doctor of Internal Medicine) and is an expert in travel medicine. To make an appointment for a consultation and vaccines or preventative medications, contact us today!