How to stay healthy & safe in Argentina

Because you are smart, you have already have travel insurance. But there are things you can do to ensure you stay healthy and safe while travelling in Argentina.

Argentina is a country where you most definitely need to make sure you are fully covered for the whole time you are away, and for all the activities you intend to undertake.

Mosquito borne disease in Argentina

Dengue Fever

This disease is common to Latin America and can occur throughout the year – but is more prevalent during the wet seasons (May to August and November to January).

The northern Argentine provinces bordering Paraguay and Bolivia are especially susceptible (notably Chaco, Corrientes, Misiones, Formosa, Salta and Jujuy). Cases have been confirmed in the capital Buenos Aires and the Buenos Aires province. However you may be at risk in any part of the country.

Travellers should take extra precautions to prevent against mosquito bites by wearing suitable clothing and liberally applying deet mosquito repellent.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever usually begin seven to 10 days after being bitten and include high fever with aching joints and bones and a headache. If you develop these symptoms, you should consult a doctor.

Malaria

Like Dengue Fever, Malaria is also spread by mosquitos.Symptoms can include shivering, excessive sweating, headache, chills and nausea.

Malaria is a risk in rural areas along the northern borders with Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. You should consult your doctor or travel clinic about prophylaxis against malaria before leaving home. It is also wise to take other precautions such as wearing long and light sleeved shirts and pants, applying deet repellant, sleeping under a mosquito night and avoiding being outdoors during dawn and dusk.

But wait, there's one more big one.

Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever is another mosquito borne disease you need to watch out for. It is advised to get the necessary vaccination before you travel against this harmful and potentially fatal condition.

Vaccination is strongly recommended for those aged nine months and above travelling to the regions bordering Paraguay and Brazil in the provinces of Chaco, Corrientes, Formosa, Salta province and to all areas of Misiones province, including Iguazu Falls.

Be aware if you have visited Misiones Province in the six days prior to your return home, some western countries, like Australia, will ask you to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate on re-entry.

Other potential health issues in Argentina

But be aware outbreaks of water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, hepatitis, typhoid and rabies) occur from time to time. You are encouraged to consider having vaccinations before travelling.

In rural areas, be sure to boil all drinking water or simply drink bottled water. And remember to avoid ice cubes and salads and other foodstuffs rinsed in local water. You should also avoid raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever, or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Also the high levels of air pollution in Buenos Aires may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions.

Health hazards at altitude

You may not know it but Argentina is a popular destination for outdoor and adventure sports enthusiasts. However foreign citizens have died while mountain climbing, skiing, trekking, and hunting.

Be prepared when mountain climbing

Argentina boasts the highest peak outside of the Himalayas, Mount Aconcagua. The mountain attracts hundreds of tourists every year. However inexperienced mountaineers should bear in mind that Mount Aconcagua is 7000 metres high, the freezing temperatures and savage storms making it one of the most difficult climbs in the world.

Altitude Sickness

Travellers who ascend to altitudes greater than 2500m, particularly if the ascent is rapid, or who at higher altitudes make further rapid ascents are at risk of developing altitude sickness. Altitude sickness can be harmful or life threatening and can affect anyone, even the very physically fit if precautions are not taken before ascending in high altitude areas. Those who have had altitude sickness before, who exercise or drink alcohol before adjusting (acclimatising) to the altitude, or who have health problems that affect breathing are most at risk.

Symptoms can range from headaches, vomiting, lethargy and lack of coordination to more serious signs such as heart palpitations, severe disorientation and coughing due to fluid on the lungs.

If you plan to travel to altitude you should see your doctor prior to travel and get advice specific to you and your situation.

And for those planning on going down rather than up - a decompression chamber is located in Puerto Madryn.

Getting medical help in Argentina

And as a final note, remember medical facilities in Argentina are generally of a reasonable standard, but private medical clinics often require cash payment prior to service, including for emergency care.

Also foreign-brand medications may not be readily available and some locally produced medications do not meet stringent western standards and so may have adverse side effects.

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