Staying Healthy in Serbia

Serbia | Mon, 8 Aug 2011 | 1192 views | 2 Comments

Travelling anywhere within Eastern Europe is going to open you up to various illnesses and diseases. But in comparison to many countries, Serbia is not too bad when it comes to staying healthy. There are a few little things you need to be careful of, but all-in-all you shouldn’t have too much trouble. So let’s take a look at what you need to watch out for.

The Kosava

When travelling through Serbia and especially the capital, Belgrade, you maybe hear locals refer to the Kosava. Basically it’s a notorious Belgrade wind, which sweeps through the area bringing a burst of cold that will chill you to your bones.

It starts in the Carpathian Mountains and follows the Danube northwest where it gains a jet effect, then continues to Belgrade. It can spread as far north as Hungary.

In the winter, it can cause temperatures to drop to around -30°C. In the summer, it is cool and dusty. But the danger of this wind – it can give you a cold more quickly than you expect, especially in winter.

The best advice would be to dress appropriately and don’t spend too much time out in the wind. You’ll definitely feel the pinch.

Animals Everywhere

Serbia has a particularly high number of animals roaming its countryside and streets. Many of these are strays.

Even in the centre of Belgrade, stray dogs are often seen walking down the road. And while they may look friendly, always be careful about unknown animals. Serbia has a high rate of rabies in it’s animals and you can definitely give yourself an unpleasant experience getting a dose of rabies on your trip overseas. In recent years, there have been alerts throughout Serbia due to the discovery of rabies in wild and domestic pets. Some animals have been destroyed to prevent the spread.


Measles, yes Measles - the disease most of us associate with children - has made a comeback in Serbia, and as of 2011, there have been hundreds of reported cases. These measles outbreaks are often focused in certain parts of the country, but like every disease they can spread.

The territory around Jablanica has been the hotbed for measles for the past few years. So make sure you really did get ALL those shots at school, and maybe a booster shot isn’t a bad idea. 

Dangerous Outbreaks

Probably the scariest outbreaks to hit Serbia in the past few years would be Hepatitis A and Meningitis. Both diseases reared their ugly heads due to bad quality water. And both can be fatal to humans if left untreated. And while these outbreaks have largely been contained, a warning is in place in the Vojvodina region.

If you decide to go to this region, boil (or better still, purify) your drinking water or used bottled water only. Taking the right food and water hygiene precautions can often save you a few days in hospital.

Hospitals in Serbia

So you’ve got yourself sick and you need to go to hospital. Many doctors and other health care providers in Serbia are highly trained. But the equipment and hygiene in hospitals, clinics, and ambulances are usually not up to Western standards.

Years of repression and government corruption means the country’s health system isn’t as good as it should be. Like many developing countries, a trip to hospital may make you feel worse than when you started.

Related Articles

Serbia - crime & tourists

Serbia and its neighbours

Travel tips for Serbia

A guide to Serbian laws

Balkan border issues


Tags: disease, europe, serbia, travel-health

An ill wind


  • Athena said

    I have no Idea what am I reading, I can't believe with my own eyes. Meningitis, Hepatitis, animals on the street, wind....measles?! I live in Serbia for more than a decade, and I had no Idea about all that. Now I am scared...I've heard if you go to States, you can get Aids and other Hepatitises ;) also you can get sick because there are a lot of tornados and other strong winds there. Ok, enought with jokes, check your facts before you write something.

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