Read below for travel health advice on Slovenia from the MDtravelhealth channel on Red Planet Travel.
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Summary of recommendations
Most travelers to Slovenia will need vaccinations for hepatitis A, as well as medications for travelers' diarrhea. Other immunizations may be necessary depending upon the circumstances of the trip and the medical history of the traveler, as discussed below. All travelers should visit either a travel health clinic or their personal physician 4-8 weeks before departure.
|Hepatitis A||Recommended for all travelers|
|Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)||Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1956, if not previously given|
|Tetanus-diphtheria||Revaccination recommended every 10 years|
Travelers' diarrhea is the most common travel-related ailment. The cornerstone of prevention is food and water precautions, as outlined below. All travelers should bring along an antibiotic and an antidiarrheal drug to be started promptly if significant diarrhea occurs, defined as three or more loose stools in an 8-hour period or five or more loose stools in a 24-hour period, especially if associated with nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever or blood in the stool. A quinolone antibiotic is usually prescribed: either ciprofloxacin (Cipro)(PDF) 500 mg twice daily or levofloxacin (Levaquin) 500 mg once daily, for a total of three days. Quinolones are generally well-tolerated, but occasionally cause sun sensitivity and should not be given to children, pregnant women, or anyone with a history of quinolone allergy. Alternative regimens include a three day course of rifaximin (Xifaxan) 200 mg three times daily or azithromycin (Zithromax) 500 mg once daily. Rifaximin should not be used by those with fever or bloody stools and is not approved for pregnant women or those under age 12. Azithromycin should be avoided in those allergic to erythromycin or related antibiotics. An antidiarrheal drug such as loperamide (Imodium) or diphenoxylate (Lomotil) should be taken as needed to slow the frequency of stools, but not enough to stop the bowel movements completely. Diphenoxylate (Lomotil) and loperamide (Imodium) should not be given to children under age two.
Most cases of travelers' diarrhea are mild and do not require either antibiotics or antidiarrheal drugs. Adequate fluid intake is essential.
If diarrhea is severe or bloody, or if fever occurs with shaking chills, or if abdominal pain becomes marked, or if diarrhea persists for more than 72 hours, medical attention should be sought.
Though effective, antibiotics are not recommended prophylactically (i.e. to prevent diarrhea before it occurs) because of the risk of adverse effects, though this approach may be warranted in special situations, such as immunocompromised travelers.
The following are the recommended vaccinations for Slovenia:
Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all travelers over age two. It should be given at least two weeks (preferably four weeks or more) before departure. A booster should be given 6-12 months later to confer long-term immunity. Two vaccines are currently available: VAQTA (Merck and Co., Inc.) and HAVRIX (GlaxoSmithKline). Both are well-tolerated. Side-effects, which are generally mild, may include soreness at the injection site, headache, and malaise.
Older adults, immunocompromised persons, and those with chronic liver disease or other chronic medical conditions who have less than two weeks before departure should receive a single intramuscular dose of immune globulin (0.02 mL/kg) at a separate anatomic injection site in addition to the initial dose of vaccine. Travelers who are less than one year of age or allergic to a vaccine component should receive a single intramuscular dose of immune globulin (see hepatitis A for dosage) in the place of vaccine.
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.
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. In Slovenia, most cases are reported from the northern part of the country. 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.
An increase in the number of cases of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome was reported from Slovenia between January and April 2012 (see Eurosurveillance). A total of 24 cases were identified, compared to six or fewer cases in most previous years. Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome is characterized by the abrupt onset of fever, chills, weakness, and dizziness, often associated with headache, muscle pains, abdominal pain, and back ache. The main complication is kidney failure. In Slovenia, the disease may be caused by either Dobrava or Pumaala viruses, two different types of hantavirus. All fatal cases in Slovenia are caused by Dobrava virus, whereas the infections caused by Pumaala virus are much milder. The virus is acquired by exposure to rodent excreta, usually by inhalation. Most travelers are at low risk for infection.
An outbreak of gastroenteritis was reported in June-July 2008 from the town of Piran on the Adriatic coast, an area frequented by tourists. The outbreak was apparently related to contamination of the municipal water supply. Control measures were implemented and the water is now considered safe to drink. See Eurosurveillance for further information.
An outbreak of Q fever was reported in April 2007 among a group of veterinary students and teachers after a training course on a sheep farm in Slovenia. See Eurosurveillance for further information. Symptoms of Q fever typically include fever, chills, nausea, headache, and body aches. Complications may include pneumonia, hepatitis, endocarditis (heart valve infection), and infections of the bones and joints. In pregnant women, Q fever may lead to miscarriage. Q fever is primarily a disease of ruminants such as cattle, sheep, and goats, which shed the Q fever bacteria in their body fluids, especially birth products. Humans become infected by inhaling dust or aerosols contaminated by body fluids from infected animals. The disease is not transmitted from person-to-person. Most travelers are at extremely low risk.
In recent years, more cases of Lyme disease have been reported from Slovenia than from any other European country. Most cases are reported from the northern part of the country. See Eurosurveillance for further information. Lyme disease is a tick-borne infection which causes fever, headache, joint pains, body aches, and malaise, usually in association with an expanding red rash, often pale in the center (known as a bull's eye rash). If not treated in its early stages, the infection may be complicated by arthritis, meningitis, encephalitis, Bells palsy, or cardiac involvement. Tick precautions are recommended for travel to rural and forested areas, especially during the warm weather months.
The number of cases of tick-borne encephalitis almost doubled from 2004 to 2006 (see Eurosurveillance). Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral infection of the central nervous system transmitted by tick bites, usually after travel to rural or forested areas in the spring or summer. The infection may also be acquired by ingesting unpasteurized dairy products. The disease typically begins as a flu-like illness, including fever, headache, and vomiting, followed by the development of neurologic symptoms. Neurologic damage may be permanent, causing chronic headaches, difficulty concentrating, muscle weakness or loss of balance. Tick-borne encephalitis vaccine should be considered for long-term travelers who expect to be visiting rural or forested areas in the spring or summer, especially in the northern part of the country. The vaccine is available in many European countries, but not the United States. Tick precautions are strongly advised, as below. As above, vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis should be considered for long-term travelers who expect to be visiting rural or forested areas in the spring or summer,
A small number of cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy ("mad cow disease") have 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 Legionnaires' disease was reported from a nursing home in Slovenia in August 2010 (see Eurosurveillance). Legionnaires' disease is a bacterial infection which typically causes pneumonia but may also involve other organ systems. The disease is usually transmitted by airborne droplets from contaminated water sources, such as cooling towers, air conditioners, whirlpools, and showers. Legionnaires' disease is not transmitted from person-to-person.
Outbreaks of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome are occasionally reported, usually in the late spring and summer. An increase in the number of cases was reported in the first four months of 2008, possibly due to a mild winter leading to an increase in the rodent population (see Eurosurveillance). Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome is caused by hantaviruses and acquired by exposure to rodent excreta, often by the aerosol route. Most travelers are at low risk.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection is reported, but travelers are not at risk unless they have unprotected sexual contacts or receive injections or blood transfusions.
Food and water precautions
All travelers should bring along an antibiotic and an antidiarrheal drug to be started promptly if significant diarrhea occurs, defined as three or more loose stools in an 8-hour period or five or more loose stools in a 24-hour period, especially if accompanied by nausea, vomiting, cramps, fever or blood in the stool. Antibiotics which have been shown to be effective include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), rifaximin (Xifaxan), or azithromycin (Zithromax). Either loperamide (Imodium) or diphenoxylate (Lomotil) should be taken in addition to the antibiotic to reduce diarrhea and prevent dehydration.
If diarrhea is severe or bloody, or if fever occurs with shaking chills, or if abdominal pain becomes marked, or if diarrhea persists for more than 72 hours, medical attention should be sought.
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 the primary 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 Slovenia, call 112.
Good medical care is widely available. The main facility is the Klinièni Center Ljubljana (Clinical Centre Ljubljana) (Zalo¹ka (Zaloska) cesta 2, SI-1000 Ljubljana; tel. 38615225050, emergency tel. 38615228408; website http://www2.kclj.si/). Most trauma cases are transferred there. On the sea or at the coast, most travelers go to Splo¹na bolni¹nica Izola (General hospital Izola) (Polje 35, Izola (Isola in Italian), tel. 38656606299; website http://www.sb-izola.si/). Other major hospitals include the following:
For a guide to English-speaking physicians and dentists in Slovenia, as well as other hospitals, go to the U.S. Embassy website.
The word for pharmacy in Slovene is "lekarna." Pharmacies are usually marked with a large green cross. Most are well-supplied. For a 24-hour pharmacy, you can go to one of the following:
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).
When traveling with young children, be particularly careful about what you allow them to eat and drink (see food and water precautions), because diarrhea can be especially dangerous in this age group and because the vaccines for hepatitis A, which are transmitted by contaminated food and water, are not approved for children under age two.
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, oral replacement salts, and appropriate antibiotics for common childhood infections, such as middle ear infections.
Travel and pregnancy
International travel should be avoided by pregnant women with underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or a history of complications during previous pregnancies, such as miscarriage or premature labor. For pregnant women in good health, the second trimester (18–24 weeks) is probably the safest time to go abroad and the third trimester the least safe, since it's far better not to have to deliver in a foreign country.
Before departure, make sure you have the names and contact information for physicians, clinics, and hospitals where you can obtain emergency obstetric care if necessary. In general, pregnant women should avoid traveling to countries which do not have modern facilities for the management of premature labor and other complications of pregnancy.
Strict attention to food and water precautions is especially important for the pregnant traveler because some infections, such as listeriosis, have grave consequences for the developing fetus. Additionally, many of the medications used to treat travelers' diarrhea may not be given during pregnancy. Adequate fluid intake is essential.
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 Slovenia are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ljubljana to obtain updated information on travel and security within Slovenia. The U.S. Embassy is located at Presernova 31, Ljubljana 1000, Tel: (386)(1) 200-5500 or Fax: (386)(1) 200-5535. The Embassy website address is http://www.usembassy.si.
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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