Travelers Health Tips Print e-mail this info
Some basic planning and precautions can help keep you healthy and happy while traveling.

Where to Get Care
Emergencies Dial 911 toll free, and no coin required at a pay phone for emergency assistance. The Red Cross Rescue unit can be reached directly at 128 throughout the country (221-5818 in San José). Tourism Care Medical Services has road and air paramedic and ambulance service throughout Costa Rica (286-1818). Listings for private physicians are under Médicos in the yellow pages.
Non Emergency Care Your first line of defense should be your own first aid kit. Second, you can turn to the local farmacia (pharmacy).

Municipal water supplies in Costa Rica are excellent. One of the reasons so much land is protected in parks and reserves is that Ticos recognize the importance of their watersheds. Water purification standards are similar to those followed in North America and Europe.

Water from rivers and streams is not safe to drink without purification. As nearly anywhere in the world, free running water contains parasites and bacterial pathogens (including giardia).

Downstream from San José and in the waters around Puntarenas pollution and contamination can be severe enough to make swimming unsafe in the rivers.

Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways of preventing disease transmission whether you are traveling or not.

Common sense is your best defense against digestive ailments. Wash any fruits and vegetables (especially ones you don't peel), don't eat food from stands or restaurants unless it's as hot or cold as it should be, and don't change your diet dramatically overnight.

Depending on your current health plan, a separate travel insurance policy might be a good idea. Costa Rica's Social Security Institute offers medical and emergency dental coverage by the week. It is available by the week through Tico travel agents, ask for the Instituto Nacional de Seguros travelers insurance.

Many multinational companies offer policies that cover trip cancellation, lost baggage, medical costs, and emergency evacuation. For what you get this insurance is quite expensive so shop around, get details from the providers, and read the policy carefully before purchasing.

Your ultimate medical resource must be your physician. We have provided some general information, and daily updates by qualified medical professionals are available on the CDC and WHO web sites.

No inoculations are currently (June 2006) required for travelers from North America to Costa Rica. However, you may want to consider a gamma globulin injection to boost your general immunity and defenses against hepatitis.

First Aid
Everyone should carry a basic first aid kit when traveling. Hikers, backpackers, campers, surfers and others who are likely to find themselves away from medical care should carry more extensive supplies.

A minimum kit includes pain relievers/fever reducers (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, or Aspirin) Imodium, band aids, tweezers, neosporin, tape, eye drops, insect repellent, sun screen. The benefits of having each of these items convenient should be apparent.

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