Are You Going on a Trip to South America? Here’s Some Important Health Information
From the exhilarating wilderness of the Amazon Rainforest to the bustling cities of Brazil, South America has plenty to offer holiday-makers, particularly as an extended trip post-retirement. Countries such as Peru and Ecuador are experiencing a boom in popularity (over 3 million people visited Peru in 2013) and according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, the ‘Americas welcomed 163 million international tourists’ to the continent in 2012 alone.
If you’re planning to visit this exciting and varied continent, it’s important to make sure that you remain fit and healthy whilst travelling, to ensure you get the most from your experience. Here’s some useful advice.
Vaccinations for South America
It is recommended that you book an appointment with your local travel clinic before you depart, to find out what vaccines you’ll require whilst in South America. Be aware that you’ll need to do this well before you go, as some vaccines will require several doses before they become effective.
You may need:
- Typhoid (required every 3 years)
- Tetanus / Diphtheria / Polio (every 10 years)
- Hepatitis A (2 jabs required for 25 year protection)
- Hepatitis B (3 injections over 3 weeks)
- Yellow Fever (every 10 years)
- Cholera (2 oral doses, protects for 2 years)
- Rabies (3 doses over the course of a month)
You may also require anti-malarial medication, depending on the region you are visiting. Your doctor will be able to provide you with more specific information.
Avoiding Upset Stomach
One of the most common problems when visiting this continent is diarrhoea, or ‘traveller’s tummy’. It’s relatively easy to avoid this condition by taking a few precautionary measures. Ensure that you only drink bottled water, and that your food is freshly prepared and fully cooked. Don’t purchase food from street sellers (no matter how delicious it may look) and avoid raw foods, such as salad and uncooked vegetables.
Even if you do take anti-malarial medication, mosquitoes can cause big problems whilst you’re travelling. It’s possible that your bites may become infected. If this happens, it’s important to seek medical help, so you can be prescribed antibiotics.
Of course, prevention is better than cure; so take action against mosquitoes by using a DEET spray, or a citronella or lemongrass spray. Cover up wherever possible and avoid lingering for too long by water, which acts as a natural magnet for these pesky creatures!
Certain parts of South America are at an extremely high altitude; notably regions of Peru and Bolivia (Lake Titicaca is over 12,500 ft above sea-level!). This can cause altitude sickness or breathlessness whilst your body acclimatises. If you experience this, you can adopt the local method and drink coca tea; or you can purchase anti-altitude sickness medication before you go. If you’re asthmatic, ensure that you have enough medicine for your travels.
Stay Safe in the Sun and Humidity
Certain parts of South America are equatorial, which means that the sunlight is particularly intense, and can quite literally burn you within only a few minutes. Use a high SPF cream to protect yourself, and wherever possible, cover up.
Humidity is also common in this continent, and it’s likely that you’ll lose a lot of fluid through sweating. Make sure you stay hydrated throughout your travels, to avoid feeling nauseous and faint.