Travelling to new corners of the globe will always involve risks, especially if you are heading over to countries where different illnesses are endemic. Even if you always make sure to travel with a good health insurance, you would not want to be stuck in a hospital somewhere. Worse, if you do not speak the language, you will have a tough time during your stay.
When you plan a trip to South America, you should check in early on with your doctor. He will know best to check your vaccination records and have the necessary vaccines done with enough time to spare before you fly out. By completing your shots, you increase your chances of avoiding a hospital stay during your stay. The same is true if you’re travelling with pets. You must ensure they get the right vaccinations and papers otherwise they will not be able to travel. See this guide more tips for travelling with dogs.
First of all, the most basic vaccinations are always important wherever you go, but in certain countries, additional shots are required. This includes travelling to tropical countries where mosquitos carry disease that can be avoided given the right vaccines.
The Most Important Vaccinations
Hepatitis A and B,
Measles, Mumps and Rubella are the most important vaccinations. Though you might have had these vaccines while you were a child, most of them require a booster every ten years. If you are visiting South America, your doctor might also recommend these other shots.
This is transmitted through mosquito bites and is endemic in subtropical and tropical countries. Though few people actually contract the disease, it is best to be protected especially if you are traveling to some jungle areas. In some Brazilian states, it is also required so you need to bring your records with you at all times.
The bacteria Salmonella Typhi causes typhoid fever and it can be found in food and water that are contaminated. Poor sanitation, hygiene, untreated drinking water and poor food handling standards can contribute to its spread. Visitors also need to watch out when eating shellfish from contaminated waters.
It is a serious and possibly fatal viral infection that is transmitted through an infected mammal’s saliva, most commonly through a bite. While not everyone might need it, if you will have contact with animals, you should definitely get it for your own safety.
Other Precautions –
Malaria is a mosquito-transmitted disease common in South America for which is there is no vaccine. If you are headed to the Amazon, you need to protect yourself from mosquito bites, through wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants. You can apply mosquito repellant and take prophylactic medication.
Also known as Acute Mountain Sickness, this is another risk during a South American trip, where certain parts are above 2,000 meters in altitude. There is no vaccination against it, and the only way to avoid it is to do gradual ascents so that you can acclimatize. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated and avoid alcohol.
Lastly, check for any specific health risks in the countries you are visiting so that you can take the necessary precautions. You can also be prepared in terms of the medications you need. Moreover, an important step in staying healthy is to watch out for what you eat and drink. Do not just drink from the tap and eat only fruits and vegetables that are peeled or washed in clean water.