The number of stray dogs runs around in packs throughout Ukraine and makes rabies a potential concern for travelers. But there is no reason for panic - firstly, not all dogs are virus carriers; secondly, the rabies virus is present in saliva only during the final stages of the disease in the animal, that is during dog’s last week of life. Therefore, the odds of getting rabies are relatively low. Still, do not take any chances and seek medical attention immediately, if bitten by a dog. Fortunately, most main hospitals will have a rabies clinic.
In case, if you can't see doctor immediately, scrub the bite with soap and running water, and then apply alcohol or iodine solution. Remember that for your own safety any bite, scratch or even lick from an unknown animal should be cleaned immediately and thoroughly.
A rabies vaccination does exist, but it only reduces the level of treatment needed following a bite. Travelers vaccinated against rabies should still seek medical treatment if bitten.
Ukraine has epidemic rates of drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB), the same as many other countries of the former Soviet Union.
However, contamination risks for most travelers are very low, as infection requires prolonged contact with a contagious person. Moreover, many West Europeans and Australians are vaccinated against some strains of TB in adolescence, which, combined with general good health, is thought by some practitioners to increase natural immunity against other strains too.
At the same time, American travelers, who are rarely immunized against any TB strains, might want to consider a TB vaccination. However, its efficacy is questionable when given in adulthood.
In any case, try to avoid spending time with someone, having a persistent dry cough. If that proves to be unavoidable, you should consider getting a TB test on your return home.
Unlike in developed European countries, tap water in Ukraine is 'undrinkable'. Nevertheless, many Ukrainians (especially in ecologically clean regions) drink tap water without any concerns. Still, in order to safely consume tap water, you should boil or purify it with filters, iodine or chlorine. An even safer solution, though, is to drink bottled water, which is cheap and plentiful.
You may safely brush your teeth or wash fruits and vegetables in tap water. However, if you are overcautious about germs, you may take a bottle of water into the bathroom with you.
According to sad statistics, Ukraine occupies the first place in Europe in number of people, who have sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS, and is a leader in rates of spread of HIV-infection on the continent. According to experts' assessments, more than 1% of population lives with such diagnosis in Ukraine. However, considering that just every second knows about his disease, the real numbers are much higher than those that statistics uses.
If earlier the majority of people with HIV/AIDS were those, who injected narcotic drugs intravenously, today this disease is transmitted sexually more and more often in Ukraine.
Thus, being in Ukraine, always remember about safe sex.
There are no insects in Ukraine that are carriers of critical illnesses and whose bites would be deadly. Nevertheless, there are insects and reptiles, whose bites can be quite painful and unpleasant, in Ukrainian steppes and forests.
Wasps and bees. Stings of these insects are generally not dangerous, but they might cause troubles for people disposed to allergic reactions. In this case you should have antihistaminic preparations with you, which must be taken immediately after the sting. In most cases, being stung by a bee or wasp, it is enough to take out the sting and to treat the wound with antiseptic agent.
Mites. These arthropods live in grass and bushes; you may run into this parasite in landscape zones of the cities. The mite's sting itself is painless, but after a while it causes itching. Having discovered a mite on your body, don't try to retrieve it by yourself. It is better to go and see a doctor, who will do this without risk to your health.
Spiders. The most dangerous spider in Ukraine that lives mainly in Crimea is Mediterranean black widow. It is pretty poisonous, and therefore, its sting may cause significant harm to your health. If you failed to avoid contact with Mediterranean black widow and the poisoning happened, the injured person must be taken to the hospital as soon as possible. There he will get a necessary help - most likely through injecting of special serum.
Snakes. The only poisonous snake specie in Ukraine is viper. They live mainly in forests of Polesye (central region) and Carpathian, as well as in steppe zones in the south of the country. Generally these snakes avoid contact with people an attack only, if there is a danger for them. Therefore, snake bites are usually accidental. The poison of vipers is not very toxic, and therefore, is no danger for human's health. Nevertheless, if you have been bitten by a viper, try to see a doctor, who will neutralize the effect of poison, as soon as possible.
In order to avoid the bites of poisonous insects and snakes, stick to these precautionary measures:
- don't walk over grass (in forest or steppe) in open footwear and shorts, don't touch it with hands;
- use means against insects;
- if you decide to tent, do this on the plane surface of the open ground. Clean up the territory near the tent from trash and stones;
- tightly close the tent at night or, if possible, put a mosquito net.
There are no required immunizations for entering Ukraine. However, it is worth having inoculations against such illnesses as:
- hepatitis A
- tick-borne encephalitis (if you travel in summer period
- typhoid fever.
If you regularly take some medicine, you should take it with in the first place. In a whole, the most necessary drugs can be always purchased in Ukrainian pharmacy stores and, at that, much cheaper than in Europe. There should be no problems with drug names: they are specified in Latin, too.
Nevertheless, it would be good to have the following medicines with you:
- adhesive plaster
- antiseptic and antibacterial agents
- drugs against diarrhea
- aspirin, paracetamol and other antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and anesthetic preparations
- antihistaminic preparations (in case of disposition to allergic reactions)
- protective means against insect bites
- catarrhal preparations (including cough lozenges and syrop)
- sun block (if you travel in summer).
Medical insurance is not required to enter Ukraine, except the cases, when it is in the list of documents necessary for obtaining a visa. Ukraine has agreements with many European countries, according to which it guarantees emergency medical help for foreign residents in case of need. However, considering that these agreements generally work only in theory and also that Ukrainian health care system is underdeveloped and medical service is inferior in its quality to European standards, we recommend that you provide yourself with medical insurance regardless of the time that you plan to spend in Ukraine.