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South & Central America

South & Central America
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What shots do you need to travel in Central and South America?

The rich biodiversity of Central America and South America make them a magical destination. They include the Amazon basin, the cold Patagonian Desert and the Andes, the world’s longest continental mountain range. It is possible to tour volcanoes and, if you are really intrepid, dive into sinkholes formed by the meteor that took out the dinosaurs.

As well as natural wonders, Central and South America offer colourful cultural experiences, from ruined Mayan temples in Belize to flamboyant carnivals in Brazil.

Do I need any vaccinations for travel in Central and South America?

There is a risk of several unpleasant and dangerous illnesses in Central and South America, so you will want to take precautions against these, and that includes getting vaccinations where appropriate.

Will I be exposed to food- and water-borne diseases in South America?

In South and Central America, you may well be exposed via food to organisms that cause illness. You can get vaccinated against typhoid and hepatitis A. But you should support this by taking normal traveller’s food safety precautions. For example, only eat food that is hot and fresh. Raw food should be avoided, unless you can peel it yourself. For more information see our article on Food-borne diseases.

Drink only water that you know is safe. Factory-sealed bottles are fine; or water that you know has been treated. Watch out for ice in drinks: freezing does not kill disease-causing organisms. For more hints, see our article on Water-borne diseases.

In some places there is a risk of contracting schistosomiasis (bilharzia). To avoid schistosomiasis, you should not swim or shower in fresh, untreated water (such as rivers and lakes). To learn more, see NHS Fit for Travel’s advice on schistosomiasis.

Am I at risk from acute mountain sickness in Central or South America?

If you are visiting parts of the region that lie above 2,400m then you should be aware of acute mountain sickness (altitude sickness). NHS Choices has some information about altitude sickness and your travel health adviser can offer guidance.

Is there rabies in South America and Central America?

Rabies occurs in South and Central America and your travel health adviser will help you decide whether you need to be vaccinated against this fatal disease that is contracted via animal bites, licks and scratches.

Can I catch malaria in Central America or South America?

Malaria occurs in Central and South America, so take advice from a travel health nurse before you go to see if you need anti-malarials. There are other mosquito-borne diseases present in the region, including Zika, Dengue fever and Chikungunya, so you will need to avoid mosquito bites. See our mosquito avoidance article for more details.

Should I get vaccinated against yellow fever before going to Central America or South America?

There is a risk of yellow fever transmission in parts of South America and Central America. This mosquito-borne disease can be fatal in some cases. There is a vaccine available, Stamaril, which confers good immunity.

What other vaccines do I need for a South or Central American trip?

You may need boosters for diphtheria and tetanus, and, depending on what you have planned, a hep B shot could be recommended.

Make an appointment with us for your travel vaccinations. Many locations and evening appointments make our clinics very convenient!