A visit to South America is a trip back in time. You will experience rich history, culture, historical sites and breathtaking scenery. Whether you hike or climb, fish or surf, or just want to shop and experience the dazzling nightlife, there is something for everyone. When planning a trip to the other half of the Americas, you should be sure you are current on all of your immunizations. Nothing stops a vacation faster than a sudden illness that could have been prevented.
You should check with your family doctor about your past immunizations to see if you need any boosters, and to verify you have been protected from the routine childhood illnesses. You may need a booster of the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. You should also check to see if it is time for your routine booster vaccinations for the poliovirus vaccine, and diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus vaccine. Most travelers do not consider the fact that they require booster shots as an adult. There is no time like the present to become current.
If you need any of the travel immunizationswhich are unique to South America, you will want to get these at least six weeks prior to departure. Many of the vaccines need time to become fully effective, so you should plan for this. Even if there isn’t enough time before you leave for the medicines to work, you should get them anyway. You may still get some protection.
Hepatitis A is common in South America, and is transmitted through contaminated food and water. It is possible to catch this virus in even the cleanest accommodations, so don’t fool yourself into thinking you are safe. In some cases, you can contract Hep A from close personal contact, but primarily it is from food or drink.
Hepatitis B is transmitted through sexual contact, and blood and other bodily fluids. Even if you use a condom during sex, you are not safe without the vaccine. Hospitals in South America have different sterilization protocols from ours, and it is possible to be hospitalized and become exposed in that manner. The Hepatitis A and B virus vaccines can be given in tandem, and it is a series of at least two shots within six months, so you should get this inoculation as soon as possible.
Typhoid is still prevalent in some parts of the world, so you should get vaccination shot in New York as well. Although this disease has been all but eradicated in the U.S., There are areas in South America where exposure isn’t out of the question.
Yellow fever is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, and is a common illness in South America. There is no treatment once you get yellow fever, but it is vaccine preventable. Anyone traveling to jungle regions would be particularly vulnerable, or anyone doing a lot of outdoor activities, such as hiking or camping.
You may want to get the rabies vaccine if you will be anywhere near wildlife, or stray animals in some of the smaller villages. Rabies can be carried by all mammals, so don’t be fooled into petting a wild animal unless you are protected. Mountain climbers and cave explorers will want to remember that bats commonly carry rabies, and all it takes is one little bite or scratch.
You may want to consider taking an anti-malarial drug if you will be staying for an extended period, or visiting jungle destinations. Malaria is spread by mosquito bites, and there are plenty of those in the jungles and rural areas. South America has an issue with malaria, and depending on where you visit, you may be at increased risk. Once you get malaria, it can be debilitating for months afterward, so take some preventive measures if you think you will be at risk of being bitten by mosquitos.
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Traveling outside of USA and concerned about your health? Travel vaccinations are recommended for many destinations. Find out about the requirements and talk to a physician.
To schedule an appointment to receive your vaccinations and consult with the doctor about how you can prevent illness or injury during your travels, contact us today.