Tick-borne encephalitis, a serious infection of the brain, spread by kullancs (ticks), which burrow under the skin, has become a common problem in parts of Hungary in recent years. Vaccination is advised for campers and hikers, particularly in Transdanubia and the Northern Uplands between May and September.
Lyme disease is another tick-transmitted infection not unknown in Central and Eastern Europe. The illness usually begins with a spreading rash at the site of the tick bite and is accompanied by fever, headaches, extreme fatigue, aching joints and muscles, and mild neck stiffness. If untreated, these symptoms usually resolve themselves over several weeks, but over subsequent weeks or months disorders of the nervous system, heart and joints might develop. Protect yourself by wearing trousers and long-sleeved shirts when hiking in forests.
Mosquitoes are a real scourge around Hungary’s lakes and rivers in summer, so make sure you’re armed with a DEET-based insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers around sundown.
Hungary doesn’t require any vaccination of international travellers, but the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of their destination.
Medical care in Hungary is generally adequate and good for routine problems but not complicated conditions. Treatment at a rendelő intézet (public outpatient clinic) costs little, but doctors working privately will charge much more. Very roughly, a consultation in an orvosi rendelő (doctor’s surgery) costs from 6000Ft while a home visit is around 10,000Ft to 15,000Ft.
Most large towns and all of Budapest’s 23 districts have a gyógyszertár or patika (rotating 24-hour pharmacy). A sign on the door of any pharmacy will help you locate the closest one.
Emergency dental care is easy and inexpensive to obtain as many Hungarian towns feature an abundance of dentists.
Emergency contraception is most effective if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex. The International Planned Parent Federation can advise about the availability of contraception in different countries.
The number of registered AIDS cases in Hungary and those who are HIV-positive is relatively low (just over 1100), though Hungarian epidemiologists estimate the actual number of those infected with HIV to be around 3000 or more. That number could multiply substantially as Budapest claims the less-than-distinctive title of ‘sex industry capital of Eastern and Central Europe’. An AIDS line to contact in Budapest is the Anonymous AIDS Association.