Staying healthy in Switzerland - A traveller's guide

Switzerland, as can be imagined, is one of the healthiest countries in the world. There are, however, a number of issues relating to health that a visitor to Switzerland should know.

Make sure you are up to date with what are called the "routine" vaccinations - measles, mumps, rubella and the other ones you should've been jabbed for at school. The Swiss are so healthy they have become a little careless with childhood vaccination and immunisation rates are low.

Common health hazards in Switzerland

Measles & Other Diseases

This has lead to a significant number of measles cases which has been on the increase since 2006. So far there have been over 4400 cases with 339 hospital admissions and one death. Just 71% of Swiss children aged two have received the recommended two doses of the measles vaccination with 87% receiving one dose, compared to WHO European averages of 94%.

Switzerland is among the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in Europe at 0.6% of the adult population or 25,000 people aged over 15 years of age so take the usual precautions as far as intimate contact and medical or cosmetic procedures are concerned.

Smoking is banned in Switzerland in all public places although there are designated areas for smokers in some restaurants.

Ticks & Reptiles

Many people come to Switzerland for the walking and mountain sports. In the woodlands during summer there are often ticks which carry encephalitis.

Walkers should wear long trousers in wooded areas. If there are swarms of ticks it is best to move away from the area.

There are several species of snake, two of which can give a nasty bite.

These snakes are more prevalent in the mountains and visitors should wear boots, socks and long trousers if walking through undergrowth and scrub. It is also advisable to exercise caution when collecting firewood and to avoid putting your hands in holes or crevices.

Weather in Switzerland

Walkers and mountain sport enthusiasts should carry gear for all weathers as the conditions in the mountains can change rapidly. It is not unknown for storms to appear from nowhere and wind-induced hypothermia can set in very quickly.

The Swiss have an extensive network of footpaths and trails so walkers should ensure they do not kick rocks off the edge as they can injure someone on the trail below.

And make sure you have appropriate clothing, including waterproof and warm clothes as well as sunscreen and a sunhat.

People visiting and doing sporting activities in the mountains should ensure their insurance carries a mountain rescue package with helicopter evacuation, as this is charged separately following by Swiss authorities.

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