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Health Risks, Inoculations, Vaccinations and Health Certificates

Italy - Health Risks, Inoculations, Vaccinations and Health Certificates

Italy is known for its good healthcare, as it has the 4th largest life expectancy across the world. Sanitation levels in the country are also quite high, which prevents the outbreak of diseases. Most of the health issues faced by the people living in Italy are generally caused by sedentary lifestyles, smoking or drinking and are not likely to be contagious. Therefore, travelers from countries across Europe, North America, Asia and Australia do not need to be immunized against any specific diseases in order to enter Italy.

The vaccines required to enter Italy vary, depending upon every individual’s health and country of origin. All children traveling to Italy should be up-to-date with their routine inoculations, which generally include MMR (Measles-Mumps-Rubella), Tetanus-Diphtheria and Influenza shots. Travelers taking their pets to the country need to show a health certificate to the authorities, to prove that the bird or animal is free of any contagious disease.

Italy was declared Polio-free in June 2002, but it is a good idea to get immunized against this disease, especially for expats from undeveloped countries. Italy was also re-declared rabies-free in March 2013 though a rabies-like disease can be spread through bats and therefore people who are going to be involved in wildlife, adventure trips, caving and other outdoor activities should get a rabies vaccine beforehand. However, expats traveling from rabies-free countries do not need to get vaccinated if they are planning to live and work only in the city.

In the last decade or so, there have been a few outbreaks of Hepatitis A (352 cases in the earlier half of 2013), Legionnaire’s Disease (17 cases in August 2011) and Chikungunya Fever (214 cases in August 2007). All these outbreaks have been traced to travelers from Jordan, India, Netherlands and Germany. People traveling from countries where yellow fever and other such diseases are in existence may need to show immunization proof on arrival to Italy. Outbreaks of measles have also occurred on more than one occasion, in children and adults, who have not been immunized. Fortunately, Italian healthcare services deal with most outbreaks quite quickly and effectively.

When it comes to drinking water in Italy, tap water is quite safe. There are many water-fountains placed across the major cities, which dispense water that is fit for human consumption. People are often seen filling their bottles at these fountains throughout the day. In rare cases, these fountains may read acqua non potabile (non potable) or may have the sign of a glass with an X across it, which means that you should not drink the water from that fountain. Drinking water from a kitchen-tap at home is also fine. However, people who are traveling by trains are advised to carry their own water bottles as the taps do not dispense drinking water. While most tourists and expats consume Italian tap water without any problem, Americans have been known to complain of an upset stomach and therefore, prefer sticking to mineral water.

While eating out in Italy initially, it may be best to avoid food that isn’t hot (in terms of temperature), regardless of where it is being purchased from. The fare served at most restaurants and cafes is quite safe but food from street vendors should be avoided. Since Italian food is quite rich compared to American and especially British food, travelers from these countries may experience digestion problems at least for the first week or two.

In Italy, avoid any contact with stray animals. In the outdoors, wear protective clothing, to prevent insect and mosquito bites. In case of an animal, insect or mosquito bite, the area should be cleaned with water and a disinfectant or soap immediately. After that, it is best to contact the local healthcare authority.

Travelers are allowed to bring in a supply of their local medicines, as long as they are in the original packing and have clear markings. In such instances, it is important to carry a signed and dated letter from a physician, describing all the medicines as well as their generic names. A doctor’s letter documenting medical necessity is also essential for carrying syringes or needles. Medicines of most kinds are easily available at pharmacies in Italy. Before traveling, ask a doctor about the drug’s generic name so that it can be purchased at an Italian chemist.

For more information on medication refer to –

The Italian Medicines Agency
Via Del Tritone, 181
00187 Rome, Italy
Tel: +39 06 5978401
Website: http://www.agenziafarmaco.gov.it/en

More information about healthcare and mandatory inoculations is available on the Italian Ministry Of Health’s website – http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/salute/p1_2.html

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