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Traveling around South America

Good planning to avoid health problems is essential
before heading for a sub-continent with such extremes:
from deserts to glaciers, and from tropical jungles to mega-cities.
Discover everything you need to know about vaccinations,
first aid kits and the measures to bear in mind
once at the destination.

salida

Before leaving

We will share with you the most important factors to
bear in mind before travelling to the Southern Cone

VACCINATIONS 

The set of vaccinations needed for a trip will depend on the regions you will visit, the characteristics of the trip, its length, the traveler’s state of health, their age and the amount of time they have available before leaving. For this reason, a personalized inquiry is needed.

It is recommended to visit your GP surgery or any private travel clinic to get your vaccinations and advice. There you will be given your International Vaccination Certificate, a document containing all the information on the vaccinations administered to the traveler. This certificate is required of everyone coming from countries where yellow fever is endemic, and it is valid for 10 years.

Yellow feveretiqueta-obligatoria-en

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What is it?

It is a viral infection that can cause fever, muscle pain, headaches, shivering, a lack of appetite, nausea and/or vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain, hemorrhagic manifestations, kidney failure, liver failure and death. It is transmitted by mosquito bites.

Where?

The vaccine is recommended to all travelers from countries with a risk of transmitting yellow fever, who are asked to get the vaccination. Sometimes travelers travelling just through the countries are asked, too. French Guyana and Paraguay require it to anyone entering their territory. It is recommended to inform yourself before leaving in case the rules change.

When?

At least 10 days before leaving.

How?

1 dose, injected.

How long?

It is valid ten days after the first dose and for ten years.

Afterwards?

Minor reactions may occur such as slight fever, muscle pain and headache.

Choleraetiqueta-recomendada-en

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What is it?

An intestinal bacterial illness which leads to diarrhea and can lead to deadly dehydration in very serious cases. It is contracted by consuming contaminated food or water.

What should I do?

Vaccination is recommended for high-risk trips to insalubrious regions.

When?

At least 3 weeks before leaving.

How?

2 oral doses with an interval of at least 1 week between them.

Afterwards?

Avoid eating 2 hours before and 1 hour after the vaccination.

Typhoid feveretiqueta-recomendada-en

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What is it?

An infection that leads to fever, headache, general malaise, a lack of appetite and insomnia. It can be deadly. It is contracted by consuming contaminated food or water.

What should I do?

Vaccinations are recommended if you are traveling to a high-risk area.

When?

At least two weeks before for the oral vaccination and 3 weeks for the injection.

How?

Injected, 1 dose. Oral, 3 doses (on 3 alternating days).

How long?

The booster dose should be administered three years later.

Afterwards?

At least 1 week must elapse between the last dose of the oral vaccination and taking any antibiotics, sulfonamide or anti-malarial medicines. The injected vaccination may cause reddening of the skin, swelling and pain in the injection site.

Occasionally it may cause fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle or joint pain and very occasionally allergic reactions.

Hepatitis Aetiqueta-recomendada-en

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What is it?

An acute viral disease that leads to a sudden fever, general malaise, nausea and stomach upset, followed by jaundice. It is caused by oral contact or contact with the feces of infected people or by consuming contaminated water or food.

What should I do?

Vaccination is recommended if you are traveling to a high-risk region and have not had the disease before.

When?

At least 2 weeks before traveling.

How?

2 injected doses; the second 6 to 12 months after the first.

How long?

It lasts 10 years.

Afterwards?

Pain, reddening or swelling in the injection site. It can cause headache, general malaise, fever and slight nausea.

Hepatitis Betiqueta-recomendada-en

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What is it?

A disease that gradually leads to a lack of appetite, stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, joint pain and rash, and jaundice may also appear. It can be deadly in some cases, while in others it becomes chronic, giving rise to cirrhosis and/or liver cancer. It is transmitted by contact with infected body fluids.

What should I do?

Vaccination is recommended if you are traveling to a high-risk region and are not vaccinated or have not had the disease before. It is necessary if you are going to have multiple sexual partners or do not have a stable partner.

When?

At least a month and a half before the trip.

How?

3 injected doses: day 0, one month later and 6-12 months later.

Afterwards?

It may cause pain, reddening or swelling in the injection site.

Rabiesetiqueta-recomendada-en

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What is it?

Caused by a virus that begins with tingling, burning or itching in the wound, along with fever, headache and general malaise. As the virus spreads throughout the central nervous system, it causes hydrophobia, hallucinations and manic behavior, until reaching paralysis and coma. It is transmitted through the infected saliva of household pets and wild animals (mainly dogs) after a bite or scratch.

What should I do?

Vaccination is recommended if you are traveling to a high-risk region.

When?

At least 1 month before the trip.

How?

3 injected doses: days 0, 7 and 28.

How long?

A booster shot is needed 2 years later.

Afterwards?

It can cause redness, inflammation or moderate pain in the injection site between 24 and 48 hours after being administered. It rarely causes headaches and muscle aches, fever and rash.

Tetanusetiqueta-recomendada-en

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What is it?

A disease caused by the spores of Clostridium tetani, which is mainly found on the ground. It starts with jaw spasms which can spread to the rest of the body and cause death if urgent treatment is not applied. It is contracted when a wound, no matter how small it is, becomes infected with the spores.

What should I do?

Vaccination is recommended because tetanus can be found all over the world.

When?

At least 1 month before leaving.

How?

3 injected doses: day 0, 1 month later and 6 months later.

How long?A

With the proper injection in childhood, a single booster shot is recommended at the age of 65. In travelers who received incomplete vaccinations during their childhood, a booster shot is administered until reaching a total of 5 doses. If the first vaccination was administered in adulthood, 2 booster shots are given 10 years apart.

Afterwards?

It is common to experience pain, reddening or swelling in the injection site, as well as headache, general malaise, fever and slight nausea.

Malariaetiqueta-recomendada-en

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Caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which multiplies in the liver and then infects the red blood cells. The symptoms can include fever, shivering, nausea and profuse sweating. It is transmitted via bites from the Anopheles mosquito, which primarily feeds in the evenings and early night. There is no vaccination, so avoiding getting bitten is essential. Depending on the risk of malaria in the region being visited, prevention can consist solely of avoiding mosquito bites or adding a chemical preventative and/or emergency treatment.

Medication

The contents of the first aid kit will vary according to the kind of trip you are taking and the people in your group.

botiquin-basico

Basic first aid kit

Take it if you are traveling to a region with easily accessible hospitals and pharmacies. It should include:

  • Never under 20 SPF. Includes after-sun products (after-sun lotion and lip balm).
  • Mosquito nets and insect repellent. Especially if you are going to regions with diseases transmitted by mosquitos. Add a product to treat bites.
  • Oral rehydration solution. To rehydrate in case of heavy diarrhea.
  • Sterile gauze.
  • Bandges.
  • Antiseptic to disinfect wounds (iodine, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, etc.).
  • Scissors and tweezers.
  • Band-Aids.
  • Thermometer.
  • Nasal decongestant.
  • Eye drops.
  • Simple analgesic (paracetamol, aspirin, etc.).
  • Anti-inflammatories (such as ibuprofen).

botiquin-completo

Complete first aid kit

Take it if you are traveling to remote regions where medicine is hard to access. Include:

  • Everything that is included in the basic first aid kit.
  • Antibiotics. Check with your doctor for the most useful ones.
  • Ointments and/or creams for irritations, eczema and other skin problems.
  • Disposable gloves.
  • Anti-fungal powder to treat infections caused by fungus.
  • Motion sickness pills.
  • Diarrhea medication and laxatives.
  • Water purification tablets.
  • Medicine for stomachaches.
  • Anti-malarial medication.

For the family…

  • If you are traveling with children, include medicines appropriate for their age: fever reducers, ear drops, products to sterilize baby bottles, nasal aspirator, etc.

  • Do not forget your specific needs: syringes, insulin, spare glasses, products for contact lenses, antihistamines, birth control pills and condoms, earplugs, inhalers, etc.

Transporting the first aid kit

  • Check the expiration dates and save the bottles and prospectuses. Write down the name of the generic medicine in case a specific brand is not sold in the destination.

  • The first aid kit should be stored in a cool, dry place away from the light.

  • Carry the medication in your hand luggage in case your suitcase is lost. Check only sharp objects and liquids more than 100 ml.

  • It is a good idea to carry duplicate medications in your checked bags.

  • Some medicines or items such as syringes must come with a medical certificate explaining why the traveler needs it.

Travel insurance

It is highly recommendable to take out an insurance policy, since things abroad can work very differently.
Bear in mind the following recommendations:

1

It is common to only find
healthcare abroad in private
centers, which can be
quite expensive.

2

Carry a copy of your insurance certificate in your hand luggagealong with your health card and vaccination record.

3

You can also register in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Travelers’ Registry so that you can be located in case of serious emergency.

4

Be informed about the possible healthcare agreements between your country of residence and the destination.

5

Be informed about the leading hospitals in the areas you are going to visit.

6

Be informed about the emergency telephone numbers in the destination.

mapa

During the trip

Below we will describe certain precautionary measures
to bear in mind during your stay in South America

In the airplane / On the boat

Ears

If your ears become plugged due
to changes in air pressure, it helps
to eat, yawn and expel air while you
cover your nose and mouth.

Humidity

The relative humidity in airplanes
is lower than usual, so glasses are
better than contact lenses…. use lip
balm and avoid diuretic drinks
like coffee and alcohol.

“Tourist class syndrome”

Remaining seated for a long time may lead
to a stoppage in the blood flow in the legs,
which in turn can cause stiffness,
swelling and discomfort. This is known
as the “tourist class syndrome” and to
avoid it you should move your legs
frequently, walk around and
wear loose clothing.

Scuba diving

The decompression syndrome or
“the bends” appears in people who
fly just after having scuba dived because
of the pressure change in the cabin.
To avoid it, it is recommendable to leave
at least 12 hours after your last dive,
or 24 hours if you have dived frequently
or at great depths.

Dizziness

If you tend to get dizzy, keep
motion sickness pills handy and when
choosing your seat in the airplane,
bear in mindthat the motion is the least
pronounced in the middle of the cabin.

Jet lag

Jet lag is more frequent when the
time difference is more than 5 hours
and in trips heading east. It leads to irritability,
fatigue and insomnia. To lower these effects,
try to adapt your sleep time to that of the
destination as quickly as possible, take
short naps (up to 40 minutes), eat lightly,
drink more liquids than usual and avoid
alcohol and coffee.

At the destination

tiempo Environmental changes

Altitude

Altitude sickness is caused by a drop in the amount of oxygen in the air at high altitudes. It can happen beyond 2,100 meters, but it is more common after 2,750 meters. Its symptoms include headache, nausea, insomnia, fatigue and a lack of appetite. Oxygen, analgesics for headache and medicines to counter vomiting and nausea can be used.

To prevent it:

  • Avoid direct trips to high-altitude locations. Break up the trip into stages so that the body can gradually acclimate itself. If you cannot avoid a rapid ascent, check with your doctor about taking acetazolamide.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat slow-absorbing carbohydrates (such as pasta).
  • Avoid heavy meals, alcohol and intense exercise.
  • Follow the 4 rules: drink before you are thirsty, eat before you are hungry, bundle up before you are cold and rest before you are exhausted.

tiempo Environmental changes

Temperature and humidity

Dehydration and a loss of salt can lead to heatstroke. Plus, some fungi, such as the one that causes athlete’s foot, are aggravated by heat and humidity.

Preventative measures:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat foods and drink beverages that contain salt.
  • Wear loose-fitting cotton clothing.
  • Apply talcum powder in affected areas of the skin.

tiempo Environmental changes

Ultraviolet radiation

It is more intense in regions near the Equator, in the summer and in the 4 hours closest to noon. High exposure can cause burns, rashes and snow blindness. To prevent skin and eye damage:

  • Avoid sun exposure during the hours near noontime.
  • Wear a hat, long sleeves and long pants.
  • Wear sunglasses with a UV filter for ultraviolet rays.
  • Use sunscreen.
  • Protect yourself even when you are in the water or snow.

tiempo Water and food

Consuming contaminated water and food can cause infectious diseases such as hepatitis A, cholera and legionnaire’s disease. You can also catch intestinal parasites and “travelers’ diarrhea”. To treat it, ingest a large amount of liquids or oral rehydration solution to avoid dehydration. See a doctor if it lasts more than three days and is accompanied by fever and vomiting.

If you don’t want to get sick and spend half your trip visiting bathrooms, take these precautions:

  • Only eat cooked food that is still warm.
  • Only eat fruit and vegetables that can be peeled or have a shell or skin.
  • Avoid milk and dairy products (ice cream, cheese, etc.) that come unpackaged.
  • Boil water or disinfect it if its origin is not certain.
  • Only drink cold beverages that come in a sealed container.
  • Only use ice made with safe water.
  • Do not brush your teeth in unsafe water.

tiempo Infections: vectors and diseases

Some insects transmit infections when they drink the blood of infected animals and then transmit it to humans through bites. Malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever are just a few diseases that are transmitted in this fashion. To avoid them:

  • Use mosquito repellent (it’s better to apply it over clothing, too), mosquito nets with a mesh no higher than 1.5 mm and protective screens in windows and doors.
  • Cover most of your body with lightweight clothing in light colors, which attract fewer insects.
  • Turn on the air conditioning/fan.
  • Tuck your pants into your socks when walking in areas with ticks and fleas.

Getting connected

A variety of applications can help you to resolve any doubts or problems that arise along the way.

app-doctoralia

Doctoralia

Allows you to locate medical
specialists and healthcare centers
near your location.

app-universal-doctor-speaker

Universal Doctor Speaker

Helps you to communicate with
doctors in different languages.

app-healthmap

HealthMap

Alerts you to any outbreaks
of disease in your area,

app-can-i-eat-this

Can I eat this?

If you have doubts on whether
or not you should eat
a certain food.

llegada

After your trip

See a doctor if…

  1. You have a fever when you return from a country with malaria.
  2. You have taken anti-malarial medications on your trip.
  3. You have symptoms of illness in the weeks after the trip, including fever, jaundice, persistent diarrhea, vomiting, skin irritation, etc.
  4. You suffer from a chronic disease.
  5. You have been exposed to a serious infectious disease.
  6. You have spent more than 3 months in a developing country.