National Services Scotland logo

Fit for Travel Logo

Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

The potential health risks will vary between individuals attending the World Cup depending on the amount of time spent in Russia, further travel around the country, onward travel to another destination and leisure pursuits. 

Russia has eleven host cities around the country taking part in this sporting event, including the city of Kaliningrad, in Kaliningrad Oblast, an exclave of Russia, found between Poland and Lithuania.

Other general factors will also be taken into consideration e.g. age, pre-existing illness, medical treatment, pregnancy etc.

Preparation

Most travellers to Russia do not need any vaccinations for travel, providing they are up to date with vaccines required for life in the UK, e.g. MMR vaccine, combined diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccine. Travellers with underlying complex medical conditions may require additional vaccinations and this should be discussed with your doctor or nurse.

There is currently a measles outbreak occurring across Europe and surrounding countries. Measles is spread through the air and mass gatherings can facilitate the spread of disease in individuals who are not immune. Travellers should ensure that they have had two doses of measles vaccine within their lifetime or that they are naturally immune (i.e. have had previous measles illness).

View the Russia country record for further information.

Travel and Health Insurance

  • It is strongly recommended that travellers obtain adequate personal insurance (including repatriation if necessary) when travelling. There is no reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK. Medical treatment can be very costly and the British Embassy cannot help finance this.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Advice

  • Check the Foreign Office website 'Foreign travel advice for Russia' before you travel for updated information on safety/security, terrorism, natural disasters, local laws and customs.
  • Check and take with you the contact details of British embassies in Russia. 
  • The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has produced guidance and tips for those travelling to Russia for the World Cup 'Be on the Ball' 

Main Points of Health Advice for Travellers

Personal Safety

  • Familiarise yourself with the areas you will be visiting and staying in before you travel using online resources or guide books.
  • Take a Russian phrase book, or learn some basic words and phrases so you can ask for help when needed.
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport with you, but leave the actual passport in a secure place in your hotel.
  • Keep your mobile phone in credit with the battery fully charged, stay in touch.
  • Try to avoid excessive alcohol which increases the risk of injury, assault and high risk sex.
  • Avoid walking alone at night in unfamiliar places.
  • LGBT+ travellers should be aware that public attitudes are less tolerant than in the UK. A blog offering advice to LGBT+ football fans has been published on the The Football Supporters Federation website

Staying Healthy

During the World cup many stadia and surrounding areas are likely to be crowded. To ensure you fully enjoy the experience, consider the following:

  • Large gatherings can cause separation from friends/group, pre-arrange a meeting place for such occasions.
  • Take note of emergency exits in the stadium.
  • Stay well hydrated, make sure you have access to safe, clean water and food.
  • Respiratory and gastrointestinal infections spread easily in large crowds, the following points reduce the risk:
    • Wash hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes, especially after coughing and sneezing.
    • Use disposable tissues when coughing or sneezing and dispose of them appropriately.
    • Avoid hand contact with the eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Avoid direct contact with people who appear unwell, and do not use other people’s personal gadgets.
    • Maintain good personal hygiene. 

Food and Water Precautions

Reduce your risk of travellers’ diarrhoea whilst in Russia by practicing good food and water hygiene. There are some general rules of food and water precautions. While it may not be practical to follow all of these rules, all of the time, applying them where possible will reduce the risk

  • Personal hygiene when eating and drinking is very important. Where possible, wash hands prior to handling food, eating and always after using the toilet. Hand washing facilities may be poor or not always available, therefore it is advisable to carry sanitising gel or alcohol hand wipes at all times.
  • Ensure that clean dishes, cups and utensils are used; use alcohol wipes to clean them if necessary.
  • If using street vendors, where possible, choose food that is freshly cooked to a high temperature and served immediately while still hot.

Further information on food and water precautions and travellers' diarrhoea.

Illness During Travel

  • If you become sick or injured during your trip visit a local doctor or nurse.  If you need urgent care, dial 103 and ask for an ambulance. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible if you required medical treatment.

Vaccine Preventable Diseases

There are few vaccine recommendations for travellers going to Russia on a short trip. If you are planning to extend your stay and travel rurally you should consider additional vaccination.

In particular, be aware of:

Rabies

  • Russia is designated by the World Health Organisation as a ‘high risk’ country for rabies in animals.
    • For a short trip to attend the World Cup only, awareness of the rabies risk and the advise to avoid contact with animals (including bats) and report any bites for assessment, may be all that is required.
  • Any bites/scratches/facial licks by any warm blooded animal while in Russia constitutes a potential a rabies risk. Saliva should be thoroughly washed off with soap and water and the wound irrigated with iodine solution or alcohol. This is very effective in removing virus from the bite, providing it is prompt and thorough.  Medical help must be sought immediately and cannot wait until return home.
  • Rabies vaccine may be recommended if you plan to extend your stay beyond the World Cup and travel to more remote/rural areas for more adventurous pursuits (particularly caving) where prompt access to the correct treatment of a bite may be difficult.
  • Further information on animal bites.

Insect-borne Diseases

A wide range of infections transmitted by biting insects are present in Russia but most are unlikely to be encountered during a short trip to the World Cup. If you are planning to substantially extend your stay and travel rurally you should consider additional vaccination. Insect Bite avoidance measures should be followed.

Sexual Health Risks

There are certain factors that increase the risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs):

  • Casual sexual relationships, particularly without the use of condoms.
  • Commercial sex workers may have high rates of infection.
  • In some countries commercial sex is very common and exposure to propositioning and even harassment is common. The unprepared traveller may be taken unawares and end up taking risks which would not be normal behaviour at home.
  • The use of recreational drugs and alcohol can lead to risky sexual behaviour.
  • Infections may be asymptomatic but not non-infectious so they may be transmitted, unknowingly to subsequent sexual partners.

Safer Sex

  • Using good quality condoms with any casual partner is essential. Remember it is the barrier that protects against STIs, not spermicides contained within them.
  • Remember you won't always know who is infected!
  • Check expiry dates on condoms, only buy from a reputable source.
  • Ensure condoms are used correctly and consistently, for all forms of sexual activity, including oral sex. STI transmission via skin to skin contact in particular will still occur where the condom barrier is not present.
  • It is important to bear in mind that while condoms will effectively reduce the possibility of transmission of most infections they are not 100% effective.

See further information on Sexual Health Risks.

Returning Travellers

Travellers returning home unwell should contact their GP for advice and inform them of their recent travel and activities.

  • Travellers who had hospital treatment in Russia and subsequently require hospital treatment in the UK must mention this on admission.  Antibiotic resistance can be imported into the UK, particularly from overseas hospital treatment.
  • Any animal bites/scratches/facial licks sustained abroad and treatment should be reported to the GP as there may be follow up treatment.
  • Travellers returning from abroad who are concerned about their sexual health, should contact their local sexual health clinic and speak with a counsellor.

Further Information

back to top