Read below for travel health advice on Finland from the MDtravelhealth channel on Red Planet Travel.
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Summary of recommendations
In general, no special immunizations or medications are necessary for Finland.
|Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)||Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1956, if not previously given|
|Tetanus-diphtheria||Revaccination recommended every 10 years|
|Influenza||Recommended for all travelers from November through April|
All children should be up-to-date on routine childhood immunizations, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, prior to international travel. The following are the recommended vaccinations for Finland:
Tick-borne encephalitis vaccine may be considered for long-term travelers who expect to be visiting rural or forested areas in the spring or summer, especially those visiting the island of Åland, which reports the highest incidence of cases. Tick-borne encephalitis is also reported from the Turku archipelago and from some areas in southeast Finland, around Kokkola and on Isosaari, which is close to Helsinki. See Eurosurveillance for further information. Two vaccines have been developed: TicoVac, also known as FSME Immun (Baxter AG), which is manufactured in Austria, and Encepur (Chiron Behring), which is made in Germany. The vaccines are approved for use in a number of European countries, but not the United States. A full series consists of three doses over a one-year period, which is not practical for most travelers, though limited data indicate that Encepur may be given in an accelerated schedule for faster immunity. Tick precautions, as discussed below, are strongly advised.
Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine: two doses are recommended (if not previously given) for all travelers born after 1956, unless blood tests show immunity. Many adults born after 1956 and before 1970 received only one vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella as children and should be given a second dose before travel. MMR vaccine should not be given to pregnant or severely immunocompromised individuals.
Influenza vaccine is recommended for all travelers during flu season, which runs from November through April. Influenza vaccine may cause soreness at the injection site, low-grade fevers, malaise, and muscle aches. Severe reactions are rare. Influenza vaccine should not be given to pregnant women during the first trimester or those allergic to eggs.
Outbreaks of Pogosta disease, a mosquito-borne infection caused by Sindbis virus, typically occur in Finland every seven years, mainly in August and September. In recent decades, the eastern part of the country has been chiefly affected. A major outbreak occurred in 2002, causing almost 600 cases, but only 105 cases were reported for the year 2009. Symptoms of Pogosta disease include rash and arthritis. Most cases resolve uneventfully. See Eurosurveillance and Emerging Infectious Diseases for further information.
An outbreak of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis infections was reported from Finland in March 2004. Cases in March and April 2004 occurred mainly in Central and Northern Pohjanmaa (English name: Ostrobothnia), while cases in June and July 2004 occurred chiefly in the Helsinki Region and other parts of the country. The outbreak was eventually traced to contaminated raw carrots. See Eurosurveillance for further information. Yersinia pseudotuberculosis causes fever and abdominal pain which may be indistinguishable from acute appendicitis, often leading to unnecessary appendectomies. A previous outbreak occurred among six students at a school in Pirkkala, a town in central Finland. The initial symptoms mimicked those of appendicitis, and four of the students underwent removal of healthy appendices. Two outbreaks were reported in the 1980s.
A single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow disease") has been identified, but transmission to humans has not been reported to date. At present, the risk of acquiring variant CJD from European beef appears to be extraordinarily low, at most about one in 10 billion servings. The Centers for Disease Control does not advise against eating European beef, but suggests that travelers who wish to reduce their risk may either abstain from beef while in Europe or eat only solid pieces of muscle meat, such as steak, rather than products like sausage or chopped meat that might be contaminated. There is no evidence of any risk from pork, lamb, milk or milk products. For recent updates, go to ProMED-mail.
An outbreak of tularemia totaling almost 900 cases was reported from July through October 2000, chiefly in the North Western region. Many of those infected were farmers. In Finland, the main animal reservoirs for tularemia are rabbits and voles. The disease may be acquired by direct contact with animals or by mosquito or tick bites. Symptoms may include fever, swollen glands, and skin lesions. Severe cases may be complicated by pneumonia or sepsis. See Eurosurveillance for further information.
For detailed statistics regarding many infectious diseases, go to EpiNorth (click on EpiData from the menu on the left).
Insect and Tick Protection
Wear long sleeves, long pants, and boots, with pants tucked in, when traveling to rural or forested areas. Apply insect repellents containing 25-50% DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) or 20% picaridin (Bayrepel) to exposed skin (but not to the eyes, mouth, or open wounds). DEET may also be applied to clothing. Products with a lower concentration of either repellent need to be repplied more frequently. Products with a higher concentration of DEET carry an increased risk of neurologic toxicity, especially in children, without any additional benefit. Do not use either DEET or picaridin on children less than two years of age. For additional protection, apply permethrin-containing compounds to clothing and shoes. Permethrin-treated clothing appears to have little toxicity. Perform a thorough tick check at the end of each day with the assistance of a friend or a full-length mirror. Ticks should be removed with tweezers, grasping the tick by the head. Many tick-borne illnesses can be prevented by prompt tick removal.
Bring adequate supplies of all medications in their original containers, clearly labeled. Carry a signed, dated letter from your personal physician describing all medical conditions and listing all medications, including generic names. If carrying syringes or needles, be sure to carry a physician's letter documenting their medical necessity. Pack all medications in hand luggage. Carry a duplicate supply in the checked luggage. If you wear glasses or contacts, bring an extra pair. If you have significant allergies or chronic medical problems, wear a medical alert bracelet.
Make sure your health insurance covers you for medical expenses abroad. If not, supplemental insurance for overseas coverage, including possible evacuation, should be seriously considered. If illness occurs while abroad, medical expenses including evacuation may run to tens of thousands of dollars. For a list of travel insurance and air ambulance companies, go to Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad on the U.S. State Department website. Bring your insurance card, claim forms, and any other relevant insurance documents. Before departure, determine whether your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures. The Medicare and Medicaid programs do not pay for medical services outside the United States.
Pack a personal medical kit, customized for your trip (see description). Take appropriate measures to prevent motion sickness and jet lag, discussed elsewhere. On long flights, be sure to walk around the cabin, contract your leg muscles periodically, and drink plenty of fluids to prevent blood clots in the legs. For those at high risk for blood clots, consider wearing compression stockings.
Avoid contact with stray dogs and other animals. If an animal bites or scratches you, clean the wound with large amounts of soap and water and contact local health authorities immediately. Wear sun block regularly when needed. Use condoms for all sexual encounters. Ride only in motor vehicles with seat belts. Do not ride on motorcycles.
Ambulance and Emergency Services
For an ambulance in Finland, call 112.
High quality medical care is widely available. Many health care providers speak English. For a guide to physicians and hospitals in Finland, go to the U.S. Embassy website (click on Consular Services from the menu on the left, then click on American Citizens Services Unit). For emergency medical care, go to a local medical center or clinic, which are called "ensiapuasema" (first-aid station) and usually located at hospitals. Pharmacies are called "apteekki" in Finnish. In major cities, there is usually at least one 24-hour pharmacy.
Traveling with children
Before you leave, make sure you have the names and contact information for physicians, clinics, and hospitals where you can obtain emergency medical care if needed.
All children should be up-to-date on routine childhood immunizations, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children who are 12 months or older should receive a total of 2 doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, separated by at least 28 days, before international travel. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 months should be given a single dose of measles vaccine. MMR vaccine may be given if measles vaccine is not available, though immunization against mumps and rubella is not necessary before age one unless visiting a country where an outbreak is in progress. Children less than one year of age may also need to receive other immunizations ahead of schedule (see the accelerated immunization schedule).
Be sure to pack a medical kit when traveling with children. In addition to the items listed for adults, bring along plenty of disposable diapers, cream for diaper rash, and appropriate antibiotics for common childhood infections, such as middle ear infections.
Helpful maps are available in the University of Texas Perry-Castaneda Map Collection and the United Nations map library. If you have the name of the town or city you'll be visiting and need to know which state or province it's in, you might find your answer in the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names.
(reproduced from the U.S. State Dept. Consular Information Sheet)
Americans living in or visiting Finland are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki and obtain updated information on travel and security within Finland. The U.S. Embassy is located at Itainen Puistotie 14B; tel: 358-9-171931 or after hours tel 358-9-605414; fax 358-9-652057; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit the Embassy's Internet home page at http://www.usembassy.fi/.
For information on safety and security, go to the U.S. Department of State, United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Foreign Affairs Canada, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
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