Before travel, be sure you and your children are up to date on all routine immunizations according to schedules approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). See the schedule for adults and the schedule for infants and children. Some schedules can be accelerated for travel.
See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect. If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. It might not be too late to get your shots or medications as well as other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.
The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in Western Europe depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. For most areas of this region, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.
In 2004-2005 there has been a marked increase in reported cases of mumps in the United Kingdom. Tickborne encephalitis, a viral infection of the central nervous system, occurs in Austria, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark (only on the island of Bornholm); a few cases have also been reported from Italy, Norway, and France. Travelers are at risk who visit or work in forested areas during the summer months and who consume unpasteurized dairy products. The vaccine for this disease is not available in the United States at this time. To prevent tickborne encephalitis, as well as Lyme disease, travelers should take precautions to prevent tick bites (see below).
Leishmaniasis (cutaneous and visceral) is found in countries bordering the Mediterranean, with the highest number of cases from Spain, where it is an important opportunistic infection in HIV-infected persons.
Legionnaries disease, caused by the Legionella bacterium, is sporadic; some outbreaks have involved tourists at resort hotels.
There is no risk for yellow fever in Western Europe. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into the Azores, Madeira, and Malta if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa where yellow fever is endemic. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.
Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout Western Europe and can contaminate food or water.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob (in animals bovine spongiform encephalopathy/mad-cow disease) cases have been reported primarily from the United Kingdom, though a small number of cases have been reported from other countries. Large outbreaks of trichinosis have occurred; outbreaks in France have been linked to horsemeat.
Additional information: see the Safe Food and Water page for a list of links.
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers. Protect yourself from motor vehicle injuries: avoid drinking and driving; wear your safety belt and place children in age-appropriate restraints in the back seat; follow the local customs and laws regarding pedestrian safety and vehicle speed; obey the rules of the road; and use helmets on bikes, motorcycles, and motor bikes. Avoid boarding an overloaded bus or mini-bus. Where possible, hire a local driver.
Travelers should take the following precautions
If you become ill after your trip—even as long as a year after you return—tell your doctor where you have traveled.
Important: This document is not a complete medical guide for travelers to this region. Consult with your doctor for specific information related to your needs and your medical history; recommendations may differ for pregnant women, young children, and persons who have chronic medical conditions.Date: August 1, 2005