Sicknesses You Might Get if You Visit Latin America

Sicknesses You Might Get if You Visit Latin America

A close-up of a mosquito on a person's arm, actively drinking their blood.

When you pack your bags for an adventure in Latin America, you’re probably thinking about the vibrant cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and mouthwatering food awaiting you. The good news is that you’re guaranteed to get that!

The bad news is that Latin America is home to a variety of environmental factors that your body might not be used to. Therefore, it’s smart to think about the sicknesses you might get if you visit. Read on to learn what your risks are so you can stay healthy and make the most out of your Latin American escape.

Sickness From Food

Ah, Latin American cuisine—whether it’s tacos in Mexico, ceviche in Peru, or arepas in Colombia, your taste buds are in for a treat. However, your stomach might not always be on the same page.

The major player to watch out for here is traveler’s diarrhea, often due to indulging in food that your body isn’t used to. You will also have to watch out for the symptoms of food poisoning, as food safety measures aren’t as strict.

To keep the feast going without the unwanted side effects, stick to restaurants with good hygiene practices and opt for cooked foods. Maybe save the street food adventure for destinations with higher sanitary standards.

Sickness From Water

Water-borne diseases like typhoid and hepatitis A are real concerns in Latin America. Bottled water is your best friend, and always make sure the seal is intact. You should also avoid ice in your drink unless you’re sure it’s from a safe water source. And when brushing your teeth, you guessed it—use bottled water.

A Reusable Option

To cut down on plastic waste, you can buy a reusable water bottle with a filter lid. All you have to do is fill the bottle and press the lid into the cup (exactly like you would a French press), and voilĂ ! Your water is filtered.

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Sickness From Insects

Picture this: a serene evening on a Brazilian beach or a night under the stars in the Amazon. Sounds perfect, right? It is, until unwanted buggy guests arrive.

Mosquitoes in Latin America commonly carry dengue fever, Zika virus, and yellow fever. Protect your skin with EPA-approved insect repellents, wear long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk (peak mosquito hours), and consider staying in places with mosquito nets or screens.

Altitude Sickness

Dreaming of Machu Picchu or the salt flats in Bolivia? High-altitude destinations can take your breath away—literally.

Altitude sickness is a real concern in places that are over 2,500 meters (8,200 feet) above sea level. Symptoms include headache, nausea, and dizziness. To avoid this, acclimatize slowly, stay hydrated, and consider medications that prevent altitude sickness. Also, take it easy on your first few days up high.

Wrapping Up

When dreaming of Latin America, you should imagine the adventures and beauty that await you. However, it’s equally important to be aware of the sicknesses you might get if you visit. With these tips and precautions, you’re now ready to explore all that Latin America has to offer while keeping health hiccups to a minimum.

Dianne Pajo

Dianne Pajo is a writer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.

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