Travel in Georgia - Tips on how to stay healthy

No vaccinations are required for entry to Georgia. However, since reliable statistics indicate that more than 80% of adults in developed countries do not maintain their immunization status, if you happen to be in this category, you're well-advised to have routine immunizations updated.

These include Tetanus - Diptheria, Poliomyelitis, Measles, Mumps and Rubella.

A combined Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all travellers over one year of age. The Hepatitis A virus is primarily transmitted through contaminated food or water by the fecal-oral route and may cause severe liver damage. The Hepatitis B virus is transmitted through infected blood products, sexual intercourse, or infected items such as needles or razor blades, and may cause severe liver damage.

Vaccination against Typhoid fever is also recommended for all intending travellers to Georgia.

Canine rabies is common in Georgia and throughout the South Caucasus region of Eurasia. Dogs are the source of 99% of human rabies deaths. Therefore, rabies vaccination is recommended for all intending travellers.

The incubation period is typically 1 to 3 months but may vary from less than one week to more than one year. Therefore, immediate treatment by the only option available post-exposure vaccination, should be sought.

On 17 December 1010, an 11 year old boy died in Tbilisi Infectious Diseases Hospital as a result of rabies virus infection. But the disease was not contracted in Georgia. The child had been bitten by a dog several days previously while visiting relatives in Azerbaijan.

Another rabies related death was registered in November 2010. On that occasion a 17 year old boy died as a result of a dog bite. He had failed to seek medical advice until 3 months after the event.

Although there is no risk in the capital, Tbilisi, measures against malaria - a course of chloroquinine before travel - are recommended for all visitors to the southern areas of Georgia.

The peak danger period extends from July to October. The preferred regimen is to avoid mosquito bites. Protective clothing and the use of mosquito repellants are recommended.

Seasonal Influenza Vaccine is recommended for children, persons over the age of 50 or those suffering from chronic heart disease, emphysema, asthma, renal disorders, immuno-suppressive disorders, and organ transplant recipients.

Pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for persons over the age of 65 and persons of any age suffering from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, renal disorders, liver diseases, sickle cell disease, asplenia, or immuno-suppressive disorders.

Many of the infectious diseases that might afflict travellers to Georgia are transmitted primarily through ingestion of contaminated food and water in areas with poor sanitary and hygienic conditions. Good personal hygiene - washing hands frequently, ensuring safe water supply, eating well cooked foods, and peeling one's own fruits - is recommended.

Unless you take along water-purifying tablets, bottled water (which is widely available) is recommended. Tap water is best avoided.

Georgia, along with Azerbaijan and Armenia are among those countries with the lowest prevalence of HIV worldwide (less than 0.3%). However, the dramatic almost nine fold increase in registered HIV cases between 2000 and 2008 (from 574 to 5323) is a cause for serious concern.

In view if these statistics, sexually active travellers are well advised to ensure they apply prophylactic measures. To date, other than abstention, the best advice to follow is "No ballon, No party".

The Georgian health system is undergoing dramatic changes and while medical facilities and services are available to all, they are over-stretched. All travellers are advised to take out emergency evacuation travel insurance. Due to local shortages, it is also advisable to take a supply of requisite personal medication after checking that they may be legally imported.

British authorities warn that, outside the capital, medical facilities are limited. In Tbilisi, they are available but can be very expensive. U.S. authorities warn that in many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service.

In view of such warnings, comprehensive medical insurance is recommended for all intending travellers to Georgia.

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1 Comment

  • Patricia McCann said

    I'm Renting a bicycle in TBlisi and cycling for 18 days.

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