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Staying Healthy

HealthCare Availability

Croatia provides its citizens with excellent, all-inclusive healthcare. Foreign tourists do not have to pay for medical services if there is a signed health insurance convention between Croatia and their home country—nationals from E.U. member countries should carry their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with them to benefit from this agreement. Healthcare costs for tourists from a country that does not have a signed convention with Croatia are paid directly by the user at the time of service.

No special vaccinations are required to enter Croatia. Contact IAMAT, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers(www.iamat.org; tel. 716/754-4883,or 416/652-0137 in Canada) for tips on travel and health concerns in the countries you’re visiting, and for lists of local, English-speaking doctors. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov; tel. 800/232-4636) provides up-to-date information on health hazards by region or country and offers tips on food safety. Travel Health Online (www.tripprep.com), sponsored by a consortium of travel medicine practitioners, also offers helpful advice on traveling abroad. You can find listings of reliable medical clinics overseas at the International Society of Travel Medicine (www.istm.org).

Common Ailments

Bites & Stings -- Mosquitoes found in most parts of Croatia generally do not carry malaria. Use an insect repellent containing DEET. Bees and wasps are commonplace, especially on some islands, and where beekeeping is an industry. Be especially aware of this if you are allergic to bee venom, and always carry an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen) for emergencies.

Dietary Red Flags -- Croatian food generally is not spicy, so gastric sensitivities are rarely triggered by the national cuisine. However, if you have fish or shellfish allergies, be sure to ask about ingredients, especially when dining on the coast. Restaurants serving vegetarian choices are becoming more commonplace, especially in larger cities, and you can find a cheese burek or plain pasta almost anywhere.

Sea Urchins & Other Wildlife Concerns -- Sea urchin needles and sharp rocks pose the greatest health hazards to swimmers in Croatia, especially around rockier beaches. It is best to wear rubber swim shoes both on the beach and in the water. These are available in most resort areas and in towns near the sea. Snake sightings are rare but can occur in wooded areas, especially in spring. If you are bitten, immobilize the area of the bite and get medical help as quickly as possible.

Sun/Elements/Extreme Weather Exposure -- Visitors should be aware that summer in Croatia can be very hot, especially in the southern regions. Air-conditioning is not prevalent in private accommodations or outside of the larger cities. Sunstroke and heat exhaustion can overtake the unwary quickly. Be sure to drink lots of water and get to a shady area or into air-conditioning if you feel dizzy and tired or if you develop a severe headache. These may be signs of heat exhaustion. Sunstroke is more serious and may require emergency medical attention. Symptoms can include fainting and/or agitation. Always carry enough sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 for all members of your party.

What to Do If You Get Sick Away From Home

Pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage and carry them in their original containers, with pharmacy labels—otherwise they won’t make it through airport security. Bring along copies of your prescriptions in case you lose your pills or run out. Don’t forget an extra pair of contact lenses or prescription glasses. Carry the generic names of prescription medicines, in case a local doctor is unfamiliar with the brand name. Note: In Croatia, all medicines, even over-the-counter medications like aspirin, are sold only at pharmacies; other drugs require a Croatian doctor’s prescription.

Additional emergency numbers are listed in “Fast Facts”.

Safety

Croatia generally is very safe for travelers. Theft and crimes against persons are not commonplace. However, you should exercise caution anytime you’re out and about in an unfamiliar area after dark wherever you are.

In some areas, land mines left over from the 1991 war can pose hazards to unsuspecting travelers. According to www.landmines.org, more than 700,000 land mines were buried in Croatia, mostly in eastern Slavonia, around Zadar in northern Dalmatia, with some near Dubrovnik in southern Dalmatia. The government has been demining the country since the end of the War for Independence in 1995, but finding and destroying the ordnance is a slow process. Usually, suspected land-mine areas are marked with red-and-white skull-and-crossbones signs (in Croatian), but you shouldn’t tramp around any part of the countryside unless you have a local guide, especially in the above areas. Land mines kill a few Croatians every year. These are mostly hunters who disregard posted signs, or farmers who are impatient to till unswept fields.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.