The information contained in or made available via this article cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any specific treatment, drug, food or supplement. This travel article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding travel to Latin America.At Totally Latin America we have clients traveling across the continent of South America and often they ask what are the vaccinations needed for travel to Peru & Latin America. There is one core response to this question, go and visit your travel doctor. Your travel doctor crucially has the most current information regarding the dynamic world of tropical disease prevention.
We have however learned from the experiences of past travelers and some of the issues which they encountered on this journey. It is not a definitive list but may give some idea of possible vaccinations needed for travel to Peru & Latin America.
Routine Vaccinations for All travelers
It is important to be up to date on your routine vaccinations that you typically have in your home country. Talk to your travel doctor to see if you are fully vaccinated and if you need any boosters. These regular vaccines typically include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox) and polio.
Common Vaccinations for Peru & Latin America
Your travel doctor will advise you on the recommended vaccinations needed for travel to Peru & Latin America, based on the risk posed in the areas you will visit. Below are some of the most common diseases that your doctor will vaccinate or medicated against:
This is a viral liver disease that can cause mild to severe illness through contaminated food or water.
This is a viral infection which can lead to acute and chronic disease. It is transmitted via sexual contact with bodily fluids, contaminated needles, and blood products via medical procedures.
This is a bacterial infection that can lead to a high fever, diarrhea, and vomiting and in some extreme cases can be fatal. It is caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi. The infection is commonly transmitted via contaminated food and drinking water, and it is more prevalent in places where handwashing is less frequent. If you are an adventurous eater you need to be mindful that food hygiene in Latin America can be less than good in certain establishments.
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. It is preventable and curable. At present Uruguay and Chile are malaria free, with no mosquito-transmitted infections and Argentina and Paraguay are working towards elimination. The Amazon rainforest regions of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil are the prime areas where malaria is prevalent. At altitudes of greater than 2,000 m (6,562 ft) the disease is rarely of concern.
Rabies is a serious virus spread to people from the saliva of infected animals. The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite. The main sources of transmission in Latin America include bats, small mammals and dogs. The virus is not seen as a major risk; save for those working or vacationing in close proximity to infected animals.
This is a viral infection spread by mosquito bites. The infection is most common in jungle areas of Latin America. The infection typically causes nausea, fever, headache and vomiting. It can progress to more serious complications affecting the heart, liver and kidney problems. Typically, the infection is not an issue above 2,300 m. The vaccination needs to be administered a minimum of ten days before travelling to an infected region and last for ten years.
Prevention of Insect Bites
Insects are responsible for the spread of many diseases in Latin America. Many of these diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine or medicine. Therefore, prevention is better than cure.
The following steps help to reduce your exposure:
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats. Light colored clothing Is best. Avoid strong flower like colors.
- Use an appropriate insect repellent that contains 20% or more DEET. With mosquitos’ active ingredients with Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD), IR3535 and 2-undecanone are considered most effective
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
- Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened windowed rooms where possible.
- Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors; for example in high risk regions like the Amazon Jungle.
Stay Safe When Eating and Drinking
Throughout your itinerary we suggest that you use only high quality restaurants. Your travel advisor and your daily guide will be able to offer suggestions on the best places to eat. However, if you venture out to other places you may find unclean food and water which can cause travelers’ diarrhea and other diseases. Reduce your risk by sticking to safe food and water habits.
- Food that is cooked and served hot
- Hard-cooked eggs
- Fruits and vegetables, you have washed in clean water or peeled yourself
- Pasteurized dairy products
- Food served at room temperature
- Food and drinks from street vendors
- Raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs
- Raw or undercooked (rare) meat or fish
- Unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
- Unpasteurized dairy products
- ” Bushmeat” (monkeys, bats, or other wild game)
- Bottled water that is sealed
- Water that has been disinfected
- Ice made with bottled or disinfected water.
- Carbonated drinks
- Piping hot coffee or tea
- Pasteurized milk
- Tap, river or well water
- Ice made with tap, river or well water
- Drinks made with tap, river or well water (such as reconstituted juice)
- Unpasteurized milk
Healthy Travel Packing List
Recommended packing list but consult your doctor in advance. This is especially important if you are a traveler with specific health needs, such as travelers who are pregnant, immune compromised, or traveling for a specific purpose like humanitarian aid work.
- Any prescription medicines
- Travelers’ diarrhea. loperamide [Imodium] or bismuth subsalicylate [Pepto-Bismol]
- Altitude sickness medicine
- Medicine to prevent malaria
- Medical alert bracelet or necklace
- Motion sickness medicine
- Medicine for pain and fever, possibly acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen
- Insect repellent
- Sunscreen (SPF 50 or greater) with UVA and UVB protection.
- Sunglasses and wide brim hat
- Health insurance documents
- Health insurance card (your regular plan and/or supplemental travel health insurance plan) and copies of claim forms
- Proof of yellow fever vaccinations
- If required for your trip, take your completed International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis card or medical waiver
- Copies of all prescriptions
Make sure prescriptions include generic names. Bring prescriptions for medicines, eyeglasses/contacts, and other medical supplies.
The information contained in or made available via this article cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. We do not recommend any specific treatment, drug, food or supplement. This travel article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding travel to Latin America.
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