Health

DESTINATIONS turkey health-6

TRAVEL TIPS

Health

No serious health risks are associated with travel to Turkey, and no vaccinations are required for entry. However, travelers are advised to have vaccinations for hepatitis A and typhoid and to take precautions against malaria if visiting the far southeast. To avoid problems at customs, diabetics and other persons who carry needles and syringes for medical reasons should have a letter from their physician confirming their need for injections. Rabies can be a problem in Turkey, occasionally even in the large cities. If bitten or scratched by a dog or cat about which you have suspicions, go to the nearest pharmacy and ask for assistance.

Even in areas where there is no malaria, you’ll want to use something to ward off mosquitoes. All pharmacies and most corner stores and supermarkets stock a variety of oils and/or tablets to keep mosquitoes at bay, as well as sprays and creams you can apply to exposed skin; it's generally easy to identify these products as the packaging usually includes a picture of a mosquito. If you can't find what you want, try asking using the Turkish word for mosquito: sivrisinek. It often seems as though mosquitoes favor foreigners, particularly the fair-skinned, so a Turk's assurances that mosquitoes in a particular place are "not bad" can be both sincere and misleading.

Given the high temperatures in summer, dehydration can be a problem, especially in southern and eastern Turkey. Remember to sip water throughout the day rather than waiting until you are very thirsty.

For minor problems, pharmacists can be helpful. Pharmacists at any eczane, or pharmacy, are well versed in common ailments and can prescribe some antibiotics and other medications for common travelers' illnesses. Many of the same over-the-counter remedies available in Western countries can be found in Turkish pharmacies, which are usually well stocked. Even a Turkish pharmacist who doesn't speak English will often be able to recognize a specific remedy—particularly if you write the name down—and be able to find an appropriate alternative if that medication is not available.

Doctors and dentists abound in major cities and can be found in all but the smallest towns; many are women. There are also hastanes (hospitals) and kliniks (clinics). Road signs marked with an "H" point the way to the nearest hospital. Even if doctors cannot converse fluently in English, most will have a working knowledge of English and French terminology for medical conditions. Turkish dentists, called diş hekimi, diş doktoru, or dişçi are highly regarded.

Food and Drink

Tap water is heavily chlorinated and supposedly safe to drink in cities and resorts. It's okay to wash fruits and vegetables in tap water, but it's best to play it safe and only drink şişe suyu (bottled still water) or maden suyu (bottled sparkling mineral water, also referred to simply as soda), which are better tasting and inexpensive. Do not drink tap water in rural areas or in eastern Turkey. Turkish food is generally safe, though you should still be careful with some types of street food, such as chickpeas and rice (nohutlu pilav) and stuffed mussels (midye dolması), which can host a number of nasty bacteria.

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