Staying Healthy in Kazakhstan - Travel Tips

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A word about Kazakhstan's weather: cold. It's in the northerly part of Central Asia and gets bitterly frosty in winter, as low as -12 Celsius (summer, on the contrary, gets quite toasty at around 30 Celsius).

Natural Disasters

In March 2010, a marriage of the two extremes caused tragedy in the mountainous area near Almaty. Heavy snowfall followed by warm weather caused water banks at Kyzyl Agash and Zharbulak water reservoirs to explode.

Major floods ensued, killing 35 people and forcing the evacuation of thousands more.

Wintry weather causes many road accidents in Kazakhstan in addition to avalanches. Altitude sickness can occur in those traveling in the Tien Shan Mountains. Take time to get used to the elevation, as serious cases of this illness can be fatal.

Kazakhstan also has the occasional earthquake. They're most likely to strike in the southeast region, which is quite mountainous, in areas like Almaty.

The earthquake threat level stands at 4, the highest level there is, as designated by the U.S. Tremors can also occur -- a recent one measured around 5.5 points on the Richter scale.

In regards to other environmental hazards, Shymkent, in the south, may also have cases of lead pollution

Staying Healthy

A few other natural dangers exist for travelers to Kazakhstan. Anyone roaming the forest regions from spring to fall is at risk for tick bites, which can also carry encephalitis.

There are numerous diseases borne from other insects and water, such as typhoid, rabies, hepatitis and leishmaniasis. Tuberculosis occurs in the Aral Sea and Semipalatinsk regions.

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome has occurred in southern Kazakhstan, including cases that have led to death.

Poliomyelitis is another possible virus passed on between people through feces. Severe instances can cause paralysis in the spinal cord or brain stem.

You can check on information regarding current outbreaks by visiting your country's government travel site. While vaccinations aren't necessarily required, they may be a good idea to ensure your health when traveling around Kazakhstan.

Watch What You Eat

Food-borne illnesses are also possible, and several outbreaks occurred in March 2010, including one among workers in Atyrau in western Kazakhstan who ate a type of salad at a cafeteria. The cause was suspected to be poor food preparation processes.

Brucellosis occurs in rural areas where infected meat is consumed. One food to be cautious with to avoid food-borne sickness is shashlik, or shish kebab.

Be careful with street food in general and try to ensure that all meat is properly cooked before eating.

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