According to Turkey’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, 75 million tourists are planning to visit Turkey by the year 2023; and since you are here, I am guessing that you are one of them. If that is the case, you probably have an idea of the breathtaking sites and majestic buildings you plan on touring.
Nonetheless, as a potential visitor to this beautiful country, it is best to familiarize yourself with the state of viruses and infections in Turkey. This will help you decide whether it is safe to travel to Turkey and teach you how to avoid contracting diseases and what to do if you do catch a bug during your tour.
Infectious Diseases in Turkey
Just like in any other country in the world, Turkey has its own share of infectious diseases. Unfortunately, poverty and poor living conditions in some areas have further contributed to the spread of these diseases. Some of these diseases include:
Hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated shellfish, water, and other food sources. You’ll know that you have hepatitis A when you start to notice that your eyes are developing a yellowish color. Severe abdominal pain and fever are also hepatitis A symptoms.
To prevent contracting the disease, ask for the hepatitis A vaccine before your trip. If not, you can receive a hepatitis A shot combined with typhoid or hepatitis B vaccines once you’re there.
The chances are that you’ve never heard of the leishmaniasis disease. Spread by an infected dog or sandfly, this illness is much more common in Syria. Also known as a skin lump, this can lead to fever, weight loss, and anemia.
Typhoid in Turkey can spread via water or food contaminated by fecal matter. Although it starts with a pink rash, typhoid can end up poisoning your blood. However, this can easily be avoided by receiving the typhoid vaccine before your voyage.
Travelers should also take routine vaccinations before traveling to Turkey. These include; measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccines, the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine, and the polio vaccine. These vaccines are mandatory for everyone.
Children aged 6-11 months should have one dose of the measles vaccines. Children older than 11 months should have two doses, separated by 28 days. 2 doses of the MMR vaccine are almost 100% effective at preventing measles.
Prevention is important!
These infections don’t necessarily mean that you cancel your trip to our country. If you follow the correct disease prevention measures, you can enjoy a bug-free tour of all your dream Turkish destinations. Even better, the precautionary measures like taking vaccines before traveling are quite simple to execute.
While in Turkey, the responsibility for your health is still in your hands. Therefore, avoid drinking tap water while you’re on a business or leisure trip to Turkey. Tap water typically has a lot of contaminants that won’t sit well with your body.
Therefore, instead of taking unnecessary risks:
- Buy bottles of water.
- Boil your tap water for up to 10 minutes
- Bring a water filter or water purification tablets.
Also, don’t drink lake or river water while you’re in Turkey, or you may experience vomiting, diarrhea, or worse, contract typhoid.
Environmental Hazards in Turkey
Another critical factor to keep in mind about Turkey is that there are quite several environmental hazards. One of these hazards can be attributed to its hot climate, which makes exercising outdoors in Turkey particularly risky.
The intense heat results in substantial sweat loss, leading to reduced salt and fluid retention in your body. The resulting sick feeling is heat illness, which is characterized by the following symptoms:
If you are a fitness enthusiast who desires some exciting afternoon running on one of Turkey’s trekking trails, your hopes are still intact. All you have to do is drink enough cold water to dilute your urinary tract and head off for some fun outdoor activity.
Another way to prevent heat illness is to chug a ton of fruit juice near a cooling fan. If you’ve lost a lot of salt in your body, drinking fluids like broth or soup can bring you back to life.
What’s the real deal about insect bites and stings in Turkey?
Insects can be scary, especially if they bite. They are even more frightening if you are allergic to their bites and stings. Therefore, you should know about insects found in the areas you purpose to visit.
If you plan on heading to the beach, mosquitoes and sand flies are a common feature in beach areas. On the bright side, mosquitoes are more of a nuisance (they have really irritating bites) than a health risk. Therefore, as you pack to enjoy the white sandy beaches of the Mediterranean, remember with a mosquito repellant. Also, avoid marshy areas or riversides during the afternoon. If this can’t be helped, then bring a mosquito head net!
Sandflies, on the other hand, leave nasty bites that can turn into Pappataci fever or leishmaniasis. Therefore, you will need to be a little more careful with these insects. Here is what you need to do to avoid sandfly bites:
- Avoid going to the beach at dawn or staying late till dusk
- If you can’t resist going to the beach at dawn or dusk, wear clothing that does not expose your skin
- Apply DEET repellant to exposed skin
Sticking to coastal areas, wasps and bees are also a common feature, including in the Aegean region. Therefore, those with allergies should take the necessary precautionary measures to avoid coming into contact with these aggressive insects. These measures include:
- Avoid wearing fruity or floral perfumes
- Do not wear bright tones but instead, go for muted tones
- Don’t walk barefoot through grassy meadows
- Don’t make any sudden movements if a bee land on you
People looking for a more inland experience away from the sea and cities may encounter scorpions, especially in Turkey’s arid areas. In particular, white scorpions can give painful stings that will plague travelers for at least one full day.
Turkey and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Unfortunately, COVID-19 is still a threat to this date. Although the number of cases has been dropping, Turkey still records around 10,000 cases each day.
As in most other countries, Turkey took the necessary precautions such as shutting down the borders, suspending some of the flights in and out, and closing shopping malls, events, festivals, concerts, meetings, schools, and any other public gatherings.
Turkish citizens and residents are also subject to a four (4) day curfew from 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 31, 2020, through 5:00 a.m. on Monday, January 4, 2021.
Turkey’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has temporarily suspended all flights to and from the UK, Denmark, and South Africa.
Reopened to Most International Visitors
Both to expedite the normalization process and to be able to make sure every single vendor is following the higher standards for COVID-free tourism, Turkey has a project called the “healthy tourism certificate” program. The project is all about ensuring each hotel, transportation, flight, and similar services are equipped with a high level of health and hygiene requirements.
For the uninitiated, coronavirus can be spread by:
- Sneezing or coughing without covering your mouth
- Shaking hands or touching another person with the virus
- Touching a surface or an object that is contaminated with the virus
- Coming into contact with human feces
What makes the coronavirus so dangerous is that it mutates once it enters your body. If you want to avoid the infection altogether, limit close contact with others during your trip. Also, keep a one-time use handkerchief or a tissue with you to cover your mouth while you’re sneezing or coughing.
Health Tips for Your Turkey Trip
Now that you know all about the infections and viruses found in Turkey, let’s talk about staying safe and healthy to prepare for your trip. As we discussed above, getting vaccinated beforehand is the key to preventing illnesses while abroad.
- For more peace of mind, stick to Turkish dishes that are fully cooked and served hot. Yes, that includes delicious foods like hard-boiled eggs. Besides this, eating vegetables and fruits that you have prepared yourself is a safe snack.
- Also, there’s nothing wrong with trying pasteurized dairy items in Turkey. That being said, stay away from room temperature food, soft-cooked eggs, and uncooked meat. For example, “bushmeat” might sound good, but it could be prepared from wild game, bats, or monkeys.
- When it comes to beverages, hot Turkish tea or coffee is going to become your best friend. Also, pasteurized milk and carbonated drinks are safe to consume too. Moving forward, be sure to bring over-the-counter prescriptions from your home country to take if you become ill.
- If you need a doctor while you’re abroad, bring a list of local hospitals and doctors to visit in case of an emergency. Before your trip, take some time to talk to your insurance provider as well.
- Not only will this help you to learn about what will be covered, but it’ll also let you know what services will be offered. We highly recommend that you buy medical evacuation and travel health insurance for your travels.
Pro tip: bring an ID card that will let locals know what your severe allergies, blood type, or chronic conditions are in their language. Better yet, phone the Turkish Embassy ahead of time to make sure that you can bring your legal prescriptions into the country. If all else fails, obtain refills.
Visiting Turkey Anytime Soon?
Are you or your family members planning on visiting Turkey anytime soon? We will be glad to have you. But before getting ready for your Turkey trip, it doesn’t hurt to look into the infections and viruses that can be found at your destination. If you don’t have the time to research everything yourself, you’ll find what you need to know in our handy guide.
Are you feeling overwhelmed?
You can get started by picking up DEET-based insect repellent and citronella candles for your journey. Meanwhile, packing antihistamines cream and light-colored clothing is a wise idea too.
But have no fear -you should be perfectly fine during your trip to Turkey if you avoid crowds and people who are sneezing or coughing without covering their mouths. Also, stay away from shaking hands or touching others for good measure!
Want to have an unforgettable experience in Turkey? Get in touch to book a private tour today!