Read below for travel health advice on Tajikistan from the MDtravelhealth channel on Red Planet Travel.
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Summary of recommendations
Most travelers to Tajikistan will need vaccinations for hepatitis A, typhoid fever, and polio, as well as medications for travelers' diarrhea. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for certain regions, in conjunction with insect repellents and other measures to prevent mosquito bites. All travelers should be up-to-date on tetanus-diphtheria vaccination. 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.
Malaria:Prophylaxis with Lariam (mefloquine), Malarone (atovaquone/proguanil), doxycycline, or primaquine is recommended for all areas below 2000 m (6562 ft), particularly along the southern border in Khatlon Oblast; central (Dushanbe), western (Gorno- Badakhshan), and northern (Leninabad) areas.
|Tetanus-diphtheria||For all travelers who have not received a tetanus-diphtheria immunization within the last 10 years.|
|Hepatitis A||Recommended for all travelers|
|Typhoid||Recommended for all travelers|
|Polio||One-time booster recommended for any adult traveler who completed the childhood series but never had polio vaccine as an adult|
|Hepatitis B||Recommended for all travelers|
|Rabies||For travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, or at high risk for animal bites, or involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats|
|Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)||Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1956, if not previously given|
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.
Malaria in Tajikistan: prophylaxis is recommended for all areas below 2000 m (6562 ft), particularly along the southern border in Khatlon Oblast; central (Dushanbe), western (Gorno- Badakhshan), and northern (Leninabad) areas. Transmission occurs chiefly from the end of May to November. Either mefloquine (Lariam), atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone)(PDF), doxycycline, or primaquine may be given. Mefloquine is taken once weekly in a dosage of 250 mg, starting one-to-two weeks before arrival and continuing through the trip and for four weeks after departure. Mefloquine may cause mild neuropsychiatric symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, insomnia, and nightmares. Rarely, severe reactions occur, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, hallucinations, and seizures. Mefloquine should not be given to anyone with a history of seizures, psychiatric illness, cardiac conduction disorders, or allergy to quinine or quinidine. Atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone) is a combination pill taken once daily with food starting two days before arrival and continuing through the trip and for seven days after departure. Side-effects, which are typically mild, may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, or dizziness. Serious adverse reactions are rare. Doxycycline is effective, but may cause an exaggerated sunburn reaction, which limits its usefulness in the tropics. Primaquine may cause hemolytic anemia in those with G6PD deficiency, so a blood test documenting normal G6PD levels must be obtained before starting primaquine. In those with normal G6PD levels, the main side-effect of primaquine is gastrointestinal disturbance, which can be minimized by taking the medication with food.
Insect protections measures are advised for all malarious areas.
Malaria had been largely eradicated from Tajikistan by the early 1960's, but recurred in the 1990's when, after declaring independence, financial constraints led to cessation of mosquito control operations and large numbers of refugees returned home from neighboring Afghanistan, carrying malaria with them.
For further information, see Epidemic Malaria -- Tadjikistan, 1995 (MMWR June 21, 1996 / 45(24); 513-6), the World Health Organization, and the World Health Organization.
The following are the recommended vaccinations for Tajikistan:
Tetanus-diphtheria vaccine is recommended for all travelers who have not received a tetanus-diphtheria immunization within the last 10 years. In the 1990s, a massive diphtheria epidemic occurred in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union (see CR Vitek and M Wharton, Emerging Infectious Diseases).
Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all travelers over one year of age. 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 in the United States: VAQTA (Merck and Co., Inc.) (PDF) and Havrix (GlaxoSmithKline) (PDF). 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.
Typhoid vaccine is recommended for all travelers. A major epidemic of typhoid fever occurred in Tajikistan in 1996 and 1997, including the city of Dushanbe. The outbreak was related to overflow from outdated sewage systems after heavy rainfall. In Dushanbe, depletion of chlorine supplies due to the ongoing civil war was also a contributing factor.
Typhoid vaccine is generally given in an oral form (Vivotif Berna) consisting of four capsules taken on alternate days until completed. The capsules should be kept refrigerated and taken with cool liquid. Side-effects are uncommon and may include abdominal discomfort, nausea, rash or hives. The alternative is an injectable polysaccharide vaccine (Typhim Vi; Aventis Pasteur Inc.) (PDF), given as a single dose. Adverse reactions, which are uncommon, may include discomfort at the injection site, fever and headache. The oral vaccine is approved for travelers at least six years old, whereas the injectable vaccine is approved for those over age two. There are no data concerning the safety of typhoid vaccine during pregnancy. The injectable vaccine (Typhim Vi) is probably preferable to the oral vaccine in pregnant and immunocompromised travelers.
Polio immunization is recommended, due to a recent polio outbreak in Tajikistan. Any adult who received the recommended childhood immunizations but never received a booster as an adult should be given a single dose of inactivated polio vaccine. All children should be up-to-date in their polio immunizations and any adult who never completed the initial series of immunizations should do so before departure. Side-effects are uncommon and may include pain at the injection site. Since inactivated polio vaccine includes trace amounts of streptomycin, neomycin and polymyxin B, individuals allergic to these antibiotics should not receive the vaccine
Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all travelers if not previously vaccinated. Two vaccines are currently licensed in the United States: Recombivax HB (Merck and Co., Inc.) (PDF) and Engerix-B (GlaxoSmithKline) (PDF). A full series consists of three intramuscular doses given at 0, 1 and 6 months. Engerix-B is also approved for administration at 0, 1, 2, and 12 months, which may be appropriate for travelers departing in less than 6 months. Side-effects are generally mild and may include discomfort at the injection site and low-grade fever. Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) occur rarely.
Rabies vaccine is recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, for travelers at high risk for animal bites, such as veterinarians and animal handlers, for long-term travelers and expatriates, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites. A complete preexposure series consists of three doses of vaccine injected into the deltoid muscle on days 0, 7, and 21 or 28. Side-effects may include pain at the injection site, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, muscle aches, dizziness, or allergic reactions.
Any animal bite or scratch should be thoroughly cleaned with large amounts of soap and water and local health authorities should be contacted immediately for possible post-exposure treatment, whether or not the person has been immunized against rabies.
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.
Cholera vaccine is not recommended. Cholera is not being reported from Tajikistan at this time.
A polio outbreak was reported in April 2010 from the southwestern part of Tajikistan, on the border with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, causing 458 confirmed cases and 26 deaths. No new cases have been reported since July 2010. This represents the first polio outbreak in Tajikistan since 1997 (see the World Health Organization and Eurosurveillance). Any adult who received the recommended childhood immunizations but never received a booster as an adult should be given a single dose of inactivated polio vaccine before travel to Tajikistan. All children should be up-to-date in their polio immunizations and any adult who never completed the initial series of immunizations should do so before departure.
An outbreak of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, causing 24 fatalities, was reported in August 2009 from the western Tursunzade area, 50 km (30 miles) west of the capital Dushanbe (see ProMED-mail, August 15 and 26, 2009). Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever is a life-threatening viral infection which is usually transmitted by ticks who have been feeding on infected animals (less commonly by direct contact with infected animals or rarely by exposure to an infected person). Initial symptoms may include fever, muscle aches, backache, joint pains, headaches, dizziness, and light sensitivity. Complications may result from hemorrhage into the skin, intestine, or other sites. Most cases occur in farm workers, who often remove ticks from farm animals without protecting themselves. Most travelers are at low risk. Tick precautions, as below, are recommended for all travelers.
An outbreak of leptospirosis was reported in April 2006 from a district about 50 km east of Dushanbe. The outbreak appeared to be related to recent work on the public water system. For further information, go to ProMED-mail (April 23, 2006). Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection acquired by exposure to water contaminated by the urine of infected animals. The disease usually causes flu-like symptoms and rash, sometimes complicated by meningitis, jaundice and kidney failure.
A major epidemic of typhoid fever occurred in Tajikistan in 1996 and 1997, including the city of Dushanbe. The outbreak was related to overflow from outdated sewage systems after heavy rainfall. In Dushanbe, depletion of chlorine supplies due to the ongoing civil war was also a contributing factor. A smaller outbreak of typhoid fever was reported from Dushanbe in September 2003, which was attributed to contaminated drinking water (see ProMED-mail, September 8 and November 13, 2003). An outbreak thought to be caused by typhoid was reported from Rudaki district in August 2004 (see ProMED-mail September 2, 2004).
Visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis are reported from a small number of areas.
Anthrax and brucellosis have been reported from the southern part of the country. In July 2012, an anthrax outbreak was reported from Gofilobod village, Kadiob Jamoat of Rogun, in the eastern part of the country. In August 2009, an anthrax outbreak was reported from the village of Maydapata in Farkhor district of Khatlon oblast (see ProMED-mail).
Tick-borne relapsing fever is reported.
Food and water precautions
Do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered, or chemically disinfected. Do not drink unbottled beverages or drinks with ice. Do not eat fruits or vegetables unless they have been peeled or cooked. Avoid cooked foods that are no longer piping hot. Cooked foods that have been left at room temperature are particularly hazardous. Avoid unpasteurized milk and any products that might have been made from unpasteurized milk, such as ice cream. Avoid food and beverages obtained from street vendors. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish.
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, hats and shoes (rather than sandals). For rural and forested areas, boots are preferable, with pants tucked in, to prevent tick bites. 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, shoes, and bed nets. Permethrin-treated clothing appears to have little toxicity. Don't sleep with the window open unless there is a screen. If sleeping outdoors or in an accommodation that allows entry of mosquitoes, use a bed net, preferably impregnated with insect repellent, with edges tucked in under the mattress. The mesh size should be less than 1.5 mm. If the sleeping area is not otherwise protected, use a mosquito coil, which fills the room with insecticide through the night. In rural or forested areas, 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.
The U.S. State Department advises that "the government of Tajikistan requires all foreign citizens who remain in the country for more than 90 days to present a medical certificate from a medical facility or to submit to an HIV test in Tajikistan if they are already in Tajikistan without such a certificate (with the exception of persons applying for diplomatic, official, investor, and humanitarian types of visas)."
Ambulance and Emergency Services
For an ambulance in Tajikistan, call 03. The ambulance dispatchers do not speak English.
Medical care in Tajikistan is extremely limited. Many physicians and other health professionals left the country at the time of the civil war, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. There are severe shortages of essential medical supplies, including antibiotics and disposable needles. Some hospitals may not even have consistent electricity and running water. If it is essential to obtain medical care while in Tajikistan, many expatriates go to the Center of Family Medicine in Dushanbe (City Policlinic #8, 13/1 Firdavsi St. (to the right of Sakhovat Bazar, “Zebo” Trade Center and bakery); tel. 31-87-21, 31-42-73, 31-38-28, 31-91-73), which was established in collaboration with Boulder Community Hospital, Boulder, Colorado, USA. A second Center of Family Medicine recently opened in Konibodom; two more are planned.
For a list of other physicians and clinics in Dushanbe, go to the U.S. Embassy website. Most doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of whether you have travel health insurance. Serious medical problems will require air evacuation to a country with state-of-the-art medical facilities.
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 (see the U.S. Embassy website).
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).
The recommendations for malaria prophylaxis are the same for young children as for adults, except that (1) dosages are lower; and (2) doxycycline should be avoided. DEET-containing insect repellents are not advised for children under age two, so it's especially important to keep children in this age group well-covered to protect them from mosquito bites.
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 and typhoid fever, which are transmitted by contaminated food and water, are not approved for children under age two. Baby foods and cows' milk may not be available in developing nations. Only commercially bottled milk with a printed expiration date should be used. Young children should be kept well-hydrated and protected from the sun at all times.
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 (see the U.S. Embassy website). 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.
As a rule, pregnant women should avoid visiting areas where malaria occurs. Malaria may cause life-threatening illness in both the mother and the unborn child. None of the currently available prophylactic medications is 100% effective. Mefloquine (Lariam) is the drug of choice for malaria prophylaxis during pregnancy, but should not be given if possible in the first trimester. If travel to malarious areas is unavoidable, insect protection measures must be strictly followed at all times. The recommendations for DEET-containing insect repellents are the same for pregnant women as for other adults.
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. Quinolone antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and levofloxacin (Levaquin), should not be given because of concern they might interfere with fetal joint development. Data are limited concerning trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, but the drug should probably be avoided during pregnancy, especially the first trimester. Options for treating travelers' diarrhea in pregnant women include azithromycin and third-generation cephalosporins. For symptomatic relief, the combination of kaolin and pectin (Kaopectate; Donnagel) appears to be safe, but loperamide (Imodium) should be used only when necessary. 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 or traveling in Tajikistan are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Tajikistan . Americans without Internet access should register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe as soon as possible after arrival. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 10 Pavlova Street, Dushanbe, telephone (24-hour operator) 011 (992)(372) 21-03-48/50/52, 21-20-57 or 24-15-60,fax 011 (992)(372) 21-03-62 or 51-00-29, web site: http://dushanbe.usembassy.gov/. In Dushanbe, Embassy staff work out of an interim Embassy facility. Some consular services for Tajikistan are handled in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The U.S. Embassy in Almaty is located at 97 Zholdasbekova St., Samal-2, Almaty 480099, tel. 7-3272-50-48-02, fax: 7-3272-50-48-84, web site: http://www.usembassy.kz/. U.S. citizens are reminded that resources limit the availability of some consular services in Dushanbe, including those of an emergency nature such as emergency passport issuances.
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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