Health in Romania: what you need to do

Medical care in Romania is generally not up to first world standards. Medical providers that approach first world quality standards are available in the capital, Bucharest and in the larger urban centres.

But, in an emergency, identifying them and locating them is no mean feat.

Outside the major urban centres, basic medical supplies are often in short supply.
Most over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs are available in Romania but may be sold under different brand names. Travelers requiring regular medication should come supplied or ensure that in his/her prescription, the physician lists the generic medication required rather than simply prescribing a specific brand name.
For critical medical emergencies in Romania, helicopter services are available. But, outside the major urban centres, response times for emergency services vary.

Rabies is common in Romania. Each year, 6,000 people are attacked by dogs. Although rabies is largely confined to rural areas, to avoid contamination, it is advisable to limit contact with dogs whether in the country or the city.

Rabies is transmitted by the bite or scratch of an infected animal. The animal in question may be a dog or any of a number of other animals. In unvaccinated humans, rabies is almost always fatal. Given the high population of dogs and wild animals in Romania, a prophylactic anti-rabies vaccination is recommended for travelers, especially if they intend to spend time in villages, farms or wilderness areas.

The Romanian Health Ministry recently confirmed the presence of West Nile virus infections in Alba, Bucharest, Cluj, Constanta, Dolj, Galati, Mures, Sibiu and Teleorman. Since there is as yet no effective vaccine for this mosquito-borne disease, protective measures against mosquito bites - suitable clothing, fly screens, insect repellent, and avoidance of stagnant water - are recommended.

Tick-borne encephalitis is a risk associated with travel in the country - especially forested areas - where ticks are common and active from spring to autumn. If you intend spending a long time in rural areas, vaccination is recommended.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases - tuberculosis, measles, typhoid and hepatitis are prevalent in Romania. From time to time, serious outbreaks occur. Vaccination is an option. Otherwise, avoid raw or undercooked food and in rural areas, boil all drinking water and avoid ice cubes.

Sexually transmitted diseases are prevalent in Romania. Syphilis is more common than in the rest of Europe. In 2005, Romania had the highest incidence of HIV infections in central/southeastern Europe (16,258 cases). The number of pediatric AIDS cases is one of the highest in Europe. The latter is due to the unsafe blood transfusion and inoculation procedures for young children in clinics and hospitals in the last years of the communist era. In 2006 an estimated 7,200 Romanians below age 20 had been infected in this way.

Given the prevalence of STDs and the fact that surviving pediatric AIDS sufferers are reaching the age of legal consent, sexually active travelers are well advised to use a male or female condom.

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1 Comment

  • Philip Sheldon said

    I am a Brit and have been living in the ancient city of Brasov and wandering in the forests and mountains of the Southern Carpathians for the last 2 years. I am pleased ro say that I haven't contracted anything nor have I been bitten by a dog or a wild animal in that time. That said, I wouldn't like to get seriously sick here.

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