Every year thousands of Americans visit Argentina. Tango, empanadas and Evita are on the “must-do” list of many. A few though will encounter something they don’t want to run into. Diseases which are barely a problem in the US can still be contracted when visiting the land of Tango. By taking some precautions, your trip to South America can be safe, fun and healthy.
“Routine” vaccinations are the ones which 98 percent of the American population gets. Many people believe the vaccinations are just something that is done for — or to — children right before they start school, but many vaccines are recommended as a matter of course for adults. Even some, such as flu, are recommended annually or, like tetanus boosters, every 10 years.
Childhood vaccinations include Hepatitis B, Rotavirus, Pneumococcal, Polio, Chickenpox and a few others. Because of excellent vaccination coverage of children in America, some of the diseases which are prevented by the vaccinations rarely occur within the US borders. Other countries, including Argentina, have a much higher rate. In 2011 there was an outbreak of measles and many unvaccinated Americans were infected. Some took the sickness back home and spread it to other people who had been unvaccinated. Making sure, before you leave home, that your shot records are up to date will help provide prime protection against illnesses.
Determining which vaccinations you need will depend on your age, what shots you’ve already had and your overall health. Most adults who got all of their shots as children, usually will just need the annual flu vaccine and a tetanus booster. Make sure though to speak with your physician about what is best for you. If you didn’t receive all of the vaccinations as a child, or you can’t remember, your doctor may want you to have them again, just to be on the safe side, before you travel.
In addition to the vaccinations, CDC recommends you carry along some medicine as well. Depending on your plans, these are some areas to be careful of when visiting South America’s second largest country.
CDC is recommending this vaccination because you get pick up hepatitis A by eating contaminated food and water in Argentina. It doesn’t matter which part of the country you will be visiting, it’s a problem nationwide.
If you plan on staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller towns or rural areas, the CDC recommends a typhoid vaccine.
If you plan on spending a lot of time outdoors, make sure to bring prescription medication for preventing malaria. A healthy idea is to take the medicine before, during and after your trip to keep from contacting it. With changes in the climate, the number of mosquitos is heavier now than in the past and Argentina does not have a viable “pest control” program to eliminate them. Because of poor drainage, side streets in cities and towns can have standing puddles of water which make perfect breeding grounds for the biting insects.
Rabies can be found in dogs, bats and a few other mammals in Argentina. It is not a major risk factor for most travelers. CDC recommends a rabies vaccine if you will be heavily engaged in outdoor activities such as adventure travel and caving. Also, a rabies vaccine would be a good idea if you will be working with or around animals such as a wildlife refuge or researcher.
Yellow fever is a danger in certain sections of the country. CDC recommends vaccinating travelers 9 months or older. Again, talk with your physician and he can best guide you based on your itinerary.
With a little planning ahead of time, you will probably be able to avoid getting sick and enjoy the trip. If you want to have an extra measure of security, be sure to check out the website of the International Joint Commission to find hospitals in the cities where you will be visitng.