Health

St Petersburg does not pose any particular threats to your health, although you should be aware of the risks associated with drinking the tap water (see the boxed text, below). Also be aware that the city was built on a swamp,

TO DRINK OR NOT TO DRINK

Reports about the harmful effects of drinking tap water in St Petersburg have been widely publicised and greatly exaggerated. The city's water supplier, Vodokanal, insists that the water is safe to drink, as do many local residents. Nonetheless, the pipes are antiquated, so the water may contain some metal pollutants. Furthermore, traces of Giardia lamblia have been found on a very small scale. Gl is a nasty parasite that causes unpleasant stomach cramps, nausea, bloated stomach, diarrhoea and frequent gas. There is no preventative drug, and it is worth taking precautions against contracting it.

To be absolutely safe, only drink waterthat has been boiled for 10 minutes orfiltered through an antimicrobial water filter (PUR brand makes a good portable one). It's probably safe to accept tea or coffee at someone's house, and most restaurants and hotels likely have filtration systems. Bathing, showering and shaving should cause no problems at all.

Ifyou develop diarrhoea, be sure todrinkplenty of fluids, preferably including an oral rehydration solution. Imodium is to betaken only in an emergency; otherwise it's best to let the diarrhoea run its course and eliminate the parasite from the body. Metronidazole (brand name Flagyl) orTinidazole (known as Fasigyn) are the recommended treatments for Giardia lamblia.

which means the mosquitoes are nasty in the summer months. Be sure to bring plenty of insect repellent. Also advised: aspirin, as you may need something to nurse your hangovers.

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