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Influenza Circulation across Europe and Central Asia

05 Jan 2018

As of 31 December 2017 it was reported Linkthat influenza activity was increasing across Europe and Central Asiawith both influenza type A and B viruses co-circulating.

Advice to Travellers

  • Travellers to countries during their influenza season are at similar risk of infection as local residents.
  • Crowded conditions encourage spread of infection and travellers can be exposed, for example in those attending pilgrimages (e.g. the Hajj), in aircraft, waiting rooms, buses, bars, hotels and on cruises.

Reducing Risk

  • One of the most important ways of preventing the spread of infection is careful and frequent hand washing.
  • If soap, clean water and towels are not available, alcohol hand rub can be used.
  • If possible avoid crowded places.
  • If possible avoid coughs and sneezes.

When to consider vaccination

Vaccination should be considered under the following circumstances and is dependent on the individual risk assessment (For further information see Influenza):

  • Travellers in the influenza risk groups in the UK should ensure that they have received their seasonal influenza vaccine before travel.
  • Travellers to the southern hemisphere (SH) during the destination influenza season may not be able to obtain SH vaccine in the UK prior to travel. The traveller should therefore try to arrange for vaccination after arriving at their travel destination.
  • Those more likely to be exposed to very crowded conditions e.g. attending large gatherings, festivals and major sporting events, particularly if during influenza season in the particular region or during outbreaks.
  • The Saudi Ministry of Health recommends seasonal influenza vaccine for Hajj attendees before arrival, especially for those at increased risk e.g. the elderly, those with chronic chest or heart disease.
  • Travellers not in high risk groups may wish to be vaccinated to reduce the risk of an important short trip being disrupted by influenza.