How to Stay Healthy in Latvia: Travel Hygiene Tips

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Latvia is an up-and-coming destination for travelers to the Baltics, with plenty to see and do. Here are a few tips on staying healthy and avoiding illnesses in Latvia.

Hikers in the forest near Zebrus Lake, Latvia Photo © Getty Images/Daniele SCHNEIDER

Many travelers wouldn't put much thought into the health risks that Latvia poses – and although the risk is minimal, what they do have is still something to consider when booking your plane tickets.

Tick diseases in Latvia

Ticks are a pesky bug in Latvia (or anywhere in the world), but they are especially bad in the sense that they carry some not-so-friendly diseases in this region.

Lyme disease from infected ticks is prevalent in all areas of the Baltic countries. If bitten and the bite turns into a bulls-eye rash (pale in middle) and is accompanied by fever, headache and malaise, then you should seek medical attention. Early treatment is the key when it comes to Lyme disease.

Tick-borne encephalitis is another concern for travelers to Latvia that are looking to spend time outdoors and in the woods in the spring, summer and fall months. TBE saw an insurgence during the 90s and died down a bit after that, but the recent economic downturn has said to have had an impact on the number of cases. Poorer people have taken to the woods and forests to scavenge for berries and mushrooms, putting themselves into risk areas at a higher rate, therefore not necessarily posing increased threat to normal travellers.

Travellers are urged to wear long sleeves and pants, preferably tucked-in, and also spray on DEET insect repellent when taking outdoor holidays that involve hiking and camping. You may not look very cool, but the protective measures do wonders.

There are also TBE vaccines, so be sure to consult a physician before traveling if you know you'll be spending some time in the great outdoors.

Hepatitis A in Latvia

Hepatitis A is an easy disease to prevent with proper vaccination, so be smart and get those jabs. This is a common disease in Latvia, and back in 2008 there was a massive outbreak in the Baltic area. In Latvia alone, a total of 741 cases occurred from January 1, 2008 to September 24, 2008, and the outbreak started in October of 2007 with just 22 cases.

Hepatitis A is transferred generally between fecal-oral contact, so wash your hands, and get your vaccines if you don't have them already.

Tuberculosis in Latvia

Latvia is considered a high-risk country when it comes to Tuberculosis, and unfortunately there are several strains of TB that are drug-resistant. Generally, TB is hard to acquire unless you are spending extended periods of time in enclosed quarters with an infected person. The areas at risk tend to be prisons, hospitals and crowded and poor environments, so unless you have a strange idea of what makes a good holiday, and have plans to drink unpasteurised milk you should be okay.

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