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Health and Vaccinations

This subject area is vast and you will get lots of different advice from various different sources. It is worth checking out the facts thoroughly but ultimately you have to do what you think is best for you.

Every traveler to South America should be vaccinated against Tetanus, Hepatitis and Yellow Fever. For a good Tetanus vaccination is it advisable to start one or two months before traveling to give your immune system enough time to produce its own protection. For Hepatitis you should start the 3 inoculations one month before traveling. For the yellow fever vaccination, ten days before departure is sufficient. Remember to bring your vaccination certificate with you! To enter Brazil you will need your Yellow Fever vaccination certificate.

Ninety-five percent of all doctors will tell you that malaria prophylaxis is necessary. In my 10 years experience as tour guide, I have seen a lot of bad reactions from malaria prophylaxis. Many tourists complain about headaches, bad stomach-ache, distorted vision, two fainted and one almost died. However this is due to taking "LARIAM" for malaria, not malaria itself. I recommend taking a spare pack, should you get infected from malaria you will at least have your medicine with you. I've been in Venezuela since 1993 and have visited the worst malaria zones: Delta de Orinoco, the Amazon, Pantanal..., as have most of my colleagues. In total, I've only heard of three malaria cases and they were all cured very quickly.

Until now we haven't heard anything about SARS in Venezuela or Brazil. The Corona Virus which passed from animals to humans exists mainly in South china and Hong Kong active. There may be some people suffering in a hospital in Caracas or Sao Paolo but there is no danger at all in the country.

If you want to bring a first aid kit with you, make sure it includes the following: aspirin, imodium, anti-histamine tablets, rehydration sachets, antiseptic cream, high factor sun protection, mosquito repellent, condoms, clinical thermometer, plasters and some dressing material. You can also ask in any pharmacy for advice, they are generally very helpful, better safe than sorry!

Every traveler should be aware that normal health insurance doesn't provide enough cover for bigger trips eg trekking, being in the jungle or whatever. Think about how much it would cost to be rescued by helicopter from a mountain or in the jungle or to bring you back home. And now think how much private health insurance would cost! Check it out!

Most guidebooks include an extensive section on health and related issues. I recommend the Footprint Guidebook for Venezuela.

Have fun and safe traveling!


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