South America


• Bolivia

• Brazil

• Colombia

• Ecuador

• French Guiana (France)

• Guyana

• Paraguay

• Peru

• Suriname

• Venezuela

Health Risks

• Bartonellosis (in western Andes area)

• Chagas’ disease

• Dengue fever

• Filariasis

• Leishmaniasis

• Louse-borne Typhus (in Columbia, Peru)

• Malaria

• Onchocerciasis

• Schistosomiasis (in Brazil, Suriname, Venezuela)

• Viral encephalitis

Preventing Health Problems

Recommended Vaccines

• Routine Vaccinations – including polio, measles-mumps-and-rubella (MMR), tetanus-diphtheria-and-pertussis (Tdap), and yearly influenza vaccines.

• Hepatitis A

• Hepatitis B

• Typhoid

• Rabies (only recommended in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti)

• Yellow Fever (only recommended in Trinidad and Tobago)

Avoiding Bug Bites

• Malaria is a dangerous disease and is present in some areas throughout South America. It is very important to avoid and prevent bug bites while in South America because malaria is spread by mosquitoes. There are some precautions that can be taken to prevent bug bites.

o Anti-malaria prescription medications are available. See a doctor prior to leaving about obtaining a prescription.

o To prevent bug bites use insect repellent with 30-50% DEET. In addition to insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. Since mosquitoes and other insects are more active in the morning and at night avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn as much as possible.

o Permethrin is a very effect spray on insect repellent. By sleeping under permethrin-treated nets and bedding and using permethrin-based insect spray indoors can reduce the amount of insects, especially mosquitoes, in your residence.

Food and Water

• Being in a new country and culture also means new concerns about both food and water. In order to reduce food and water borne illnesses there are some simple measures that can be taken.

o Drink bottled water, bottled or canned carbonated drinks, or water you have filtered or treated. DO NOT drink tap water, fountain drinks, or use ice cubes.

o Washing your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before eating is a simple yet very effective way to reduce ingesting harmful bacteria and viruses.

o As for food, DO NOT eat food that may have contacted contaminated water or soil such as fresh vegetables or fruit that you don’t peel before eating.

o Meat should always be fully cooked before eating to avoid food borne illness as well as stomach worms.

o DO NOT eat unpasteurized dairy products

o Avoid eating food from street vendors as food borne illness is prevalent at them due to undercooked food ingredients that are not properly washed.

Avoiding Injuries

• The most common mode of transportation in South America is by walking or by public transportation. In order to reduce injuries from these activities there are some precautions that can be taken:

• Always wear a seat belt when in a car.

• Wear properly fitting shoes and comfortable socks when walking to reduce injuries to your feet.

Avoiding Animals

• Animals such as dogs and cats can spread diseases and insects such as rabies and fleas. Avoid touching animals as much as possible.

Sun Exposure

• Too much sun exposure can increase your risk for getting skin cancer. Always wear sunscreen when outdoors.

Avoiding Fungal and Parasitic Infections

• To avoid contracting fungal and parasitic infections keep your feet dry and clean. Also, DO NOT go barefoot. Wearing sandals in the shower and slippers at home and shoes at all times when outside.


• Ascending quickly to high altitudes may cause altitude sickness. The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to acclimated by giving your body time to adjust to the altitude.

• The risk of sunburn is higher at high altitudes, so use extra caution in the sun.

Recommended Items to Bring

General Health and Medications

The following is a list of medications that you might consider taking to this area of the world.

• Any medications you take regularly at home

• Prescription anti-malarial medication

• Pain reliever such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or aspirin

• 1% hydrocortisone cream

• Anti-itch cream

• Antifungal cream

• Saline eye drops

• Anti motion sickness medication (if necessary)

• Thermometer

Avoiding Bug Bites

The following is a list of general items that you should take with you.

• Insect repellent with 30-50% DEET

• Long-sleeved shirts and pants

• Permethrin-treated bed netting

• Permethrin

o Currently, permethrin cannot be taken from the MTC in personal luggage on commercial airlines. You should plan on buying permethrin when you arrive in your mission or have it shipped out to you.

Food and Water

The following list includes items that help to simply reduce the spread of disease but also items that help to reduce water and food borne illness. There are also a couple medications that help in the event that you have diarrhea.

• Hand soap

• Alcohol-based hand sanitizer

• Water bottle

• Water purification

o Water filter

o Iodine tablets

o Ultraviolet water purifier

• Anti-diarrhea medication (loperamide)

• Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol)

• Prescription antibiotic to treat travelers’ diarrhea

Avoiding Injuries

This list includes items you should bring if you ride a bike as well as some of the items you should find in a first aid kit.

• Bicycle helmet

• Bicycle multi-tool

• Basic first aid kit

o Multiple sizes of adhesive bandages

o Antibiotic ointment

o Butterfly bandages

o Gauze pads

o Alcohol wipes

o Adhesive tape

o Blistoban

o Moleskin or Molefoam

o Burn treatment gel

o Tweezers

• Compression bandage

Sun Exposure

• Sunscreen and sunburn lotion such as aloe vera are both vital to prevent sun exposure and to treat sunburns.