Travel and Medical Advisory

Event: Some parts of Turkmenistan, including Ashgabat, are currently experiencing a dust cloud covering. It is believed this mixture of salt particles and dust is from the area around the Aral Sea carried here by strong winds, but we cannot independently confirm this information. The U. S. Embassy Health Unit, in consultation with colleagues in Washington, provided the following guidance on decreasing exposure.

Action to Take:

  1. When driving, reduce your speed, keep lights on, increase the following distance between vehicles, and avoid overtaking except in ideal conditions. If visibility is very low, park your vehicle on roadside away from the roadway. Be aware that pedestrians will be less visible. Avoid going outside, especially during high winds or periods of low visibility when the dust levels are particularly high.
  2. Spend as little time outside as possible, avoid outdoor exercises and keep windows and doors closed.
  3. When you go out, cover your nose and mouth with mask or damp cloth to reduce the inhalation of dust particles.
  4. Keep the car windows closed and opt for air-conditioning instead of fresh air (except when in vehicle for more than 20 min, turn off recirculation mode. If equipped, vehicle cabin air filters should be effective.
  5. Remain hydrated and carry a supply of water.
  6. Whenever eye is irritated, avoid rubbing of eyes, rinse with water as eye infection is common in this climate. If your eyes are irritated, consider wearing goggles and be extra careful if you use contact lenses.
  7. Asthmatic patients should always carry their emergency reliever medications as advised by the physician.
  8. Seek medical help at the earliest if you have cough, wheeze, breathing difficulty, chest pain or chest discomfort after exposure.
  9. Don’t smoke.