Tips - Health


Chances of contracting a serious illness in Brazil are minimal. There is absolutely no need to worry about any strange tropical diseases in any of the destinations proposed by BIT. If you go to Manaus, faithfully pop Malarial Pills, be sure to have you yellow fever vaccination and use common sense. An important precaution is to take out adequate health insurance. Brazil's public health facilities are overstretched and you will be obliged to use the private health system.


In the large cities and reasonable hotels this is relatively simple. Bottled water is easily available and there are plenty of good restaurants. In general places catering for tourists are very careful, but if you are in doubt, avoid it. It is important to remember that the hot weather, jet-lag and acid fruits may also affect your stomach. Drink plenty of liquid, the non-alcoholic kind, and take care with seafood.


You can obtain most prescription drugs with relative ease in Brazil. It's a good idea to check the expiry date before you buy. Pharmacists also give injections. It is important to remember that drug names in Brazil may be different from other countries. Check the components of any regular prescriptions you may need to replace while travelling.

For those, wanting to discover Brazil in the Backlands of the Amazon, Matto Grosso, Rondonia and other corners, where only Gold Diggers go, please, read the following rundown of possible health risks. The following health section may seem like a who's who of dreadfully unpleasant diseases, but keep in mind: Chances of contracting one of these diseases are about as high as getting Mad-Cow-Disease when flying British Airways.

DIARRHOEA: Mostly this is caused quite simply by the change in diet and climate, and it is usually very short-lived and is nothing to worry about. The best way to deal with this is to drink lots of liquid and eat nothing for 24 hours. If you can't cope with the starvation cure, keep to a very basic diet of dry toast, crackers and chicken soup. Avoid dairy products and other rich foods. If the symptoms continue see a doctor as you may have something more serious than "traveller's tum".


GIARDIA: This is characterized by stomach swelling, light-coloured faeces, diarrhoea, gas, headaches and sometimes nausea and depression. It can be quickly cured on treatment with appropriate drugs. Check with a doctor.

DYSENTERY: There are two kinds of dysentery; bacillary and ameobic, both of which are transmitted by contaminated food and water. Bacillary is less serious and can be quickly and effectively treated with antibiotics. Check with the doctor. Ameobic dysentery is more serious. It is caused by parasites, called Endamoeba histolytica, which live in the lower abdomen causing severe, sometimes bloody diarrhoea, pain and fever. It is important to be seen by a doctor because this will not get better if left untreated. If you cannot see a doctor immediately and suspect you may have amoebas take "floratil", which is available at pharmacies. Be sure to see a doctor.

CHOLERA: Signs of cholera are acute diarrhoea, vomiting, weakness and muscular cramps. The most essential measure is to drink enormous amounts of liquids, most cholera victims die of dehydration. Medical treatment is essential. Check for any news of cholera outbreaks in the region you intend to travel to.

VIRAL GASTROENTERITIS: This is unpleasant but, as it is a viral infection, there is nothing you can do except rest and drink plenty of water.

HEPATITIS: You can have gama globulin injections to prevent hepatitis A. Type A can be caught by eating contaminated food (shellfish) drinking water or using utensils contaminated by an infected person. The symptoms include orange or brown urine, a yellowish tone to the skin and eyes and loss of appetite. You must see a doctor. Hepatitis B can only be caught through having sex with an infected person or skin penetration (sharing needles with an infected person). This disease can be fatal so the victim should be hospitalized or repatriated immediately.

TYPHOID: This too can be caught from contaminated food or water. The vaccine is not 100% effective so medical attention is essential. If you have a high fever, diarrhoea and feel very run down, see a doctor.

MALARIA: Before you travel check which anti-malarials are currently being prescribed for the areas you intend to visit. Malaria is transmitted with the help of the female mosquito. The best prevention, therefore, is to avoid being bitten. In areas with a high mosquito population keep covered and use repellant. Sleeping with a fan or the air-conditioning on also helps keep the insects away. Symptoms generally take several weeks to appear, a common characteristic is the high fever. As there a different strains of malaria, some of them serious it's important to seek medical attention.

WORMS: These are very common in the interior parts of Brazil. Use bottled water and avoid walking around barefoot. Tests are necessary to determine the kind of worms present. Medical treatment is wholly effective.

YELLOW FEVER: This is found in the Amazon Basin, out of Manaus. Have the vaccination before you travel.

TETANUS: Again this can be avoided by ensuring your inoculations are up to date.

RABIES: Rodents and bats carry the disease and pass it on to larger creatures, including humans. If you are bitten by any animal and you don't know if it is rabid or not, assume it is and seek medical attention.

SEXUAL DISEASES: If you don't use a condom when having sex you are at risk from all sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS. As a further precaution against HIV check that any needles used are new and sterile.


SUN: take necessary precautions before going to the beach. The sun in Brazil is very strong and it is very easy to end up bright red and unable to face the sun for the rest of your holiday. Try to avoid being in direct sunlight for extended periods of time. Sunstroke can also be avoided in this way.

HEAT EXHAUSTION: If you are not used to the heat, take things slowly, drink a lot of water and be restrained on rich foods and alcohol.

MOTION SICKNESS: If you suffer from travel sickness at all make sure you come with your preferred remedy. Brazil is a spectacular country and road journeys are amazing. They are also full of hills and curves that leave your stomach several kilometres behind!