Travelling in Austria presents very few health risks. The water everywhere can be safely drunk from the tap, and the water in the lakes and streams is for the most part excellent and poses no risk of infection.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers should be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, as well as hepatitis B, regardless of their destination. A vaccination for tick-borne encephalitis is highly advisable.
Wasps can be a problem in midsummer but are only dangerous for those with an allergy or if you are stung in the throat. Look before you take a sip outdoors from a sweet drink. Mosquitoes can be a nuisance around lakes.
Ticks can carry lyme disease and encephalitis, and pose a serious outdoor hazard to health in many parts of Europe. They are usually found below 1200m in undergrowth at the forest edge or beside walking tracks.
Wearing long trousers tucked into walking boots or socks and using a DEET-based insect repellent is the best prevention against tick bites. If a tick is found attached, press down around the tick’s head with tweezers, grab the tick as close as possible to the head and rotate continuously in one direction, without pulling, until the tick releases itself. Pharmacies sell plastic or metal tweezers especially for this purpose (highly recommended for hikers). Avoid pulling the rear of the body or smearing chemicals on the tick.
Also known as Borreliose, this is a bacterial infection caused by ticks and has serious long-term consequences if left untreated with antibiotics. It is often possible to recognise in the early stage (a rash or red infection around the bite). There is no vaccination against it.
This is called FSME in Austria. It is a serious infection of the brain and vaccination is highly advised for risk groups and in risk areas (especially campers, climbers and hikers). Austrians who are in risk groups or risk areas have usually been vaccinated. Distribution of tickborne encephalitis is uneven; the website www.zecken.at (go to FSME then Verbreitungsgebiete Österreich) has an interactive map showing dangerous areas. Local pharmacists always know whether FSME is a danger in their region and can advise if you’re bitten.