How to Stay Healthy While Traveling in Belarus

Going to Belarus? Here's what you need to know before you go and how to stay healthy while traveling.

So, you've survived the myriad of border checks, random id checks, the threat of terrorism and driving in the Belarus countryside...what's the next threat to safety?
Radiation and tuberculosis that's what!

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 on the Ukraine / Belarus border still has serious effects on the local population. Rising rates of cancers and birth defects are some of the more obvious ones. Some 70% of the radiation fallout from the disaster landed on Belarus affecting farmland, some river and lake systems and food sourced from forests.

However, these days most food in Belarus is considered to have safe levels of radiation, due to regular testing. However, avoid all Belarus dairy products, forest mushrooms, forest fruit or any farm food from market or street side stalls and any water from village wells. In cities it is a good idea (though not mandatory) to boil, then filter tap water before drinking it. Alternatively bottled water is widely available.

The other major threats to health in Belarus are tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease in heavily wooded areas and more generally Tuberculosis is on the rise.
To protect against encephalitis take the following measures in forest areas:

  • Cover any exposed skin in dense undergrowth Use and frequently reapply an insect repellent that contains DEET Check yourself for ticks during and after walking in forest areas
  • The incubation period for tick-borne encephalitis is 7-14 days, so if you experience any flue like symptoms in this time seek medical attention as a matter of urgency.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a very serous bacterial infection that primarily targets the lungs. It is contagious however you are unlikely to be infected by casual passers by. Infection is caused when you are in consistent, close contact with someone suffering from TB. You can mitigate the risks of infection by a few simple means:

  • Avoid any prolonged contact with anyone who has a persistent cough. Eat well and get plenty of exercise Sunlight kills the TB bacteria, so spend plenty of time in the great outdoors

Before you enter Belarus it's a good idea to be up to date with the following immunisations:

  • HepA&B
  • Rabies (on the increase in Belarus)
  • Typhoid
  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Polio

The healthcare system in Belarus can be extremely limited in rural areas and not always up to scratch in the cities. If you fall seriously sick or are badly injured contact your consular department for assistance.

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