Many outsiders view Brazil as a poverty plagued, second class, third world country when in actuality it boasts one of the finest health care systems in the world. In spite of its population the proportion of doctors to populace is very high and health care facilities abundant. That being said, preparedness, foresight and a little caution are still in order. To help combat potential travel related health issues please consider the following prior to and while traveling in Brazil.
In spite of the fact that major cities all have treated water, drinking it from the tap is not recommended . Filtering it first can be acceptable but to be absolutely sure stick to what’s in a sealed bottled. Ordering drinks mixed with tap water or ice made from tap water could also cause the unsuspecting some unpleasant side effects. Again, the very cautious may want to stay with what’s in a sealed bottle. Indigenous foods in Brazil are undeniably some of the most delectable and tasty in the world. They can however be spicy, sharp and intense. It’s not necessary to curb all your sense of adventure by sticking to cheese burgers and shrimp louies. But use a little common sense before diving face and mouth first into the unknown.
Part of the allure to many places in Brazil is the continual rays of brilliant yet potent sunshine. Overexposure is known to have long term effects but getting a bad sun burn will also wreak havoc on your immediate vacation. Try to avoid the sun during the hottest parts of the day (we know this is not always possible, we’re simply saying avoid it if you can) and in higher elevations or near water the suns effects can be even more acute. Applying sun block is always recommended with an SPF rating of at least 15. Remember the higher the rating, the better the protection. If that days activities appear to be continual and prolonged, or if you’ve been swimming or sweating heavily, re-apply the protection. Be cognizant of covering all exposed areas and wearing a wide brim hat that shades the neck and the top of the head as well as the face without allowing any sun through it (such as mesh) is a very good idea. Stay with sun glasses containing UV protection, most cheap ones don’t have it, and remaining in the shade, near the beach, without protection can also harm you as the reflections from the sand and sea continue to exist. If it’s a sun tan you’re after limit the first few days to no more than 10 minutes per side. And always remember to drink plenty of water. Avoiding dehydration is imperative in the tropics.
For those concerned with the possibility of contracting a major illness while traveling throughout Brazil consider the preparation and execution of the following notations. Most contractible illnesses in Brazil are caused by mosquito bites. Suffice it to say, avoiding being bitten is the surest way to stay safe, but easier said than done. Repellant treated nets while sleeping can alleviate some of the possibility as well as spraying exposed skin and clothing. Avoiding artificial scents such as cologne and perfume will make you not smell as good but will also not attract mosquitoes. Vaccinations are another means of protecting oneself. Consulting a medical practitioner for your options prior to leaving is sound advice. Vaccinations are not required to enter Brazil (with some exceptions) but they are recommended when traveling in higher risk states. See Visas for the list of states and exceptions. Contractible possibilities include Yellow Fever which can be vaccinated for, but allow yourself a minimum of ten days before arriving. Dengue Fever can normally be evaded by staying away from highly populated and condensed areas of poverty. It’s important to stay away in the daylight hours as that’s when it’s the most infectious, stay away at night too as it’s just not a safe place to be. Warding off Malaria if bitten and infected is likely if you take preventative medicines before, during and after your trip.
As a standard precaution, embrace animals (wild and domestic) only with your eyes, ears and heart . Do not pet them (even friendly looking dogs) feed them or allow them to lick you. As in most countries Rabies does exist in Brazil and neither the treatment or the consequences are pleasant. If you suspect you’ve been infected seek medical attention immediately and if possible detain the animal. If you have a medical necessity of any nature do not hesitate to patronize any one of the over 16,000 various health centers throughout Brazil.