Health is one of our most valuable goods. That is why we shouldn’t take unnecessary risks! Beyond essential advises, such as medical check-ups in order to prevent illnesses, it is important to be prepared when you travel to South America. Check with your doctor and, if he is not well informed about this, don’t hesitate in seeking the advice of an specialist in infectious and tropical diseases.
As it happens every time you are planning to be far away from home, you should make sure your dentition is in perfect condition… There is nothing quite as terrible as having to have a tooth removed in a foreign country!
Last but not least, don’t forget to hire a travel insurance that has your back in even the slightest problem! You will be grateful for doing so!
The vaccination against the yellow fever is highly recommended and even compulsory in some countries. It has to be administered at least 10 days before the date of the trip in an authorized medical center. However, the vaccination certificate is only checked when entering the country if you come from an infected zone. But if you plan on staying in jungle areas and living in precarious hygiene conditions, it is extremely important that you are vaccinated.
This vaccine can’t be administered in children of under 9 months or in people allergic to eggs. Theoretically, the immunity provided by the vaccine lasts for 10 years but, generally it lasts longer. An international certificate will be delivered to you after your vaccination, and it is important that you carry it with you during your entire trip.
DIPHTHERIA, TETANUS Y POLIOMYELITIS
These vaccines are not compulsory, however it is highly recommended for you to have them administered. You should have a reminder to administrate the vaccines every 10 years, for prevention proposes. But take into account the fact that a complete vaccination against tetanus requires three injections (six weeks away from the first one, and six month after that) that have to be administered on time.
This disease is contracted when you eat contaminated food. Usually this is food that has been cooked in precarious hygiene conditions. This vaccine is recommended if you plan to stay long in Peru. But keep in mind that if you stick to the basic hygiene principles you will be able to prevent this disease.
There are several ways of vaccinating against the typhoid, including oral vaccines, for those who reject injections.
This disease is usually contracted orally, mainly by the consumption of contaminated food. The best way to prevent it is by keeping an eye out for the food you are eating, the water you are drinking and, overall hygiene. The vaccine is advisable for those who don’t have a natural immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B is the most dangerous phase of the disease. Its transmission is made by sexual or blood contact as well as via the use of non-sterilized medical supplies. In this case, the vaccine is advisable.
Nowadays, it is possible to have administered a joint vaccine, both for Hepatitis A and B.
This vaccine is not mandatory and it is not advisable due to its secondary effects and low efficacy.
Malaria is a problem in Peru. However there is no risk of contracting it above 2.000 meters above the sea level, in big cities and during the day. The most dangerous area is the Amazonia. There you would be wise to take the following precautions:
- Take pills against Malaria (ask for the advice of a specialized doctor)
- At night, cover every part of your body with clothes (with long sleeves).
- Use an effective mosquito repellent
- If possible, sleep under a mosquito net sprayed with mosquito repellent
- Maintain a good personal hygiene
- Beware of the food and water you use.
- Apply the basic hygiene rules. Drink only bottled beverages with a security seal. Don’t use ice and avoid raw meals, under-cooked meat, etc.
Always carry with you a toilet paper reserve given the fact that this is not always provided in the sanitary facilities, especially in public bathrooms and remote places.
If you engage in sexual intercourse with foreign people (whatever their origin) use condoms! They will protect you from AIDS and other STDs.
HEALTH IN THE MOUNTAIN
A big portion of the Peruvian territory is formed by highlands. During your trip you may encounter regions with an altitude superior to 4.000 meters over the sea level. Therefore it is important to be cautious.
The altitude sickness or soroche may manifest in many different ways, from a headache to a pulmonary edema (these are luckily hard to come by). We provide you with some practical advice in order to avoid complications:
- Talk to your doctor before you travel
- If you experience complications, descend to a lower altitude or have oxygen administered (available in some touristic places)
- Ascend slowly
- During the first few days in high altitudes, avoid any physical strain.
- If you experience headaches take pills, if possible, paracetamol.
- In case of serious complications don’t hesitate in calling a doctor!
- You may also use the local medicine. For instance, in order to cure the soroche, the local inhabitants use coca leaves.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
Don’t wait until the last minute to go to the doctor! It is better to spend a day of your trip recovering that having to go back in a hurry to your country because you suffer from a serious health problem.
Hire insurance and use it! Insurance companies (EUROP-Asistencia, etc.) have contacts in Peru that can easily guide you towards a specialist that will help you.