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Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 3
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I am planning a trip to the Western part of Belize and am concerned about shots, bugs, and other health issues. I have been told I need Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid Fever and Tetanus shots. I have also been told I need to take Malaria pills all the time I am there. And what is Dengue (sp?) Am I supposed to get pills for that too? I would appreciate any feedback from those of you who live in Belize and are healthy. I only visited your beautiful country for a day when I went on a cruise a few years ago. We weren't told that there were all these risks as we rode up a river to vist Mayan ruins. I loved your country and was happy to have a chance to return, when a friend invited me to go with her.....but....I was shocked and dismayed to learn I would have so many health risks. (Of course, being needle-phobic doesn't help!) I am in fairly good health, but do have a few areas of concern which I will discuss with my doctor. Any advice you could share would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Chris

Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 214
The medical recommendations you received are normal for being in the bush.

Hep A and B, tetanus, diphtheria and measles are recommended everywhere, including in the States.

Malaria risk depends on location and season, but there absolutely is risk. Please note that the preferred prophylaxis for Central America north of Panama is CHLOROQUINE, *not* Larium (mefloquine) -- many US doctors and clinics get this wrong. Check the CDC link below.

There is no vaccine or prophylaxis for dengue or leishmaniasis, but they're treatable (as is malaria).

You can verify this information at

There are risks associated with adventure travel.

But very, very few short term visitors encounter a serious problem. And most of those seem to be heart attacks and dive accidents...

Relax, have fun,

Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,461
I live here and care about my health. I have an up to date tetanus shot. And give the same info to friends and family who will be visiting. I think we had about 200 cases of malaria last year, mainly in the migrant citrus worker population. Rates of infection have decreased dramatically in recent years.

Belize based travel specialist
[email protected]
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 214
I do agree with Katie, and do not intend to be alarmist. As I said, what constitute "reasonable precautions" depends on where you're going, when, and for how long.

And some of the recommendations you received (tetanus, hepatitis) constitute "reasonable precautions" for living in the States.

For myself, I live and travel in small villages in the southern bush much of the year -- lots of rain, bugs and, frequently, questionable water and food. I take more elaborate precautions than would be appropriate for someone spending a week on the beach and a daytime excursion to see a ruin. And still I sometimes get sick.

That said, I do disagree with those who promote an across-the-board "come to Belize; there's not a thing to be concerned about" point of view. As I said: it depends where, when, and for how long. Your risk may be slight, or it may be great, but it is certainly greater than zero...

(I am particularly concerned for the young volunteers and adventure travelers I encounter who come to the deep south and spend prolonged periods in the bush with no precautions or backup plan whatsoever.)

As I recall, Chris, you're planning on being in the bush, but "high country" (right?), and dry season?, and for how long? Your "reasonable precautions" may fall somewhere in the middle.

I recommend calmly doing your homework, make your choices, then don't worry about it, relax, have fun. I do! ;-) And I'm far more exposed than you'll probably ever be!

BTW, my utterly non-scientific survey of various news reports over the years seems to imply that the greatest risks faced by tourists in Belize are, in order: (1) the sea, (2) their own preexisting health issues, (3) the roads, (4) almost everything else, ..., (99) bugs, snakes and disease... Just about like in the States... ;-)


MissLena is Galena Alyson Canada
Her Belize Forum email is [email protected]

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