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Health Risks & Precautions

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How to Minimize Health Risks When Travelling to Peru


Peru is an exotic country and as we all know, beautiful, but warm exotic areas have their own specific dangers to the traveler. One needs to be well documented about the possible problems that might occur and take the necessary precautions in order to minimize risks.


Sometimes vaccination will be necessary and you must certainly have a small "medical box" or bag with you. It should contain the common medication that you take with you on any trip. Later on this page we will provide advice about what such a package should contain.

In addition to common medication, we recommend you to get informed at the Peruvian Embassy in your country about medical precautions.




Getting Prepared Medically Before the Trip


If you are going on a trip that includes hiking, wilderness areas and especially if you intend visiting the northeast region - Amazonian Peru, then make sure you go through a full medical checkup: blood test etc.


Vaccination is not necessary if you only travel to Machu Picchu, Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, Lima. For the northeast area, the Amazonian area, including the city of Iquitos, vaccination, especially against malaria is a must!




Possible Health Dangers in Peru


The most important health risks are presented in details below on this page...


Diseases that spread through water, food and those transmitted by insects and other animals (mostly house pets, such as cats and dogs, but also by rodents) are very frequent.


Below we will take a deeper look into the possible diseases and other issues that might occur.

Please don't panic!

These are only for those of you who need through information before travelling to the most dangerous parts of Peru.


Prior to any trip it is indispensable for you to obtain health risks-related information from the Peruvian Embassy in your country. It is also important to find out if there are any areas currently infected with any epidemics.


Yellow Fever


Sometimes some areas are infected with this disease.

Vaccination is necessary if you are travelling to an infected area. Children under 6 months of age aren't vaccinated.


Peru officially recommends vaccination against yellow fever for those who wish to visit jungle areas (such as the northeastern IQUITOS AREA) and places with deep forests below the altitude of 2.300 m (7.550 ft).


How it spreads and main characteristics:

Yellow fever is a very unpleasant, potential fatal disease.

It is spread primarily by mosquitoes infected with the virus.



Headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, back pain, high fever, chills.

The symptoms may not appear immediately after being bitten by an insect. The period of appearance can last up to 7 days. If you got bitten by an insect and you don't feel these symptoms after a week, then it is highly unlikely that you got infected by the virus.


Prevention, protection:

Get vaccine against yellow fever.

After you got the vaccine, you won't be immune against it, you will only have a better chance to fight against it, in case you contract it.

It is generally a good idea to take preventive measures, such as sleeping under nets and using insect-repellant spray or ointment on your skin.




Malaria is the most well-known of all tropical diseases. Event today in the modern age it still kills 1 - 3 million every year, out of a total infected people of 350 - 500 million.


Officially Peru is a malaria zone, but Lima, Arequipa, Puno, the coastal area and the Machu Picchu, Cuzco and Sacred Valley, as well as Lake Titicaca areas are not considered to pose such risks to tourists. Of course, if you wander into dense warm forests in the Machu Picchu area, then the risk of getting infected with malaria will rise.


How it spreads and main characteristics:

It is spread by mosquitoes and parasites. If a mosquito bites a person, the parasites enter the body of the victim, spreading the potentially deadly diseases.



Fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, headache.


Prevention, protection:

Vaccination before travelling to an area that is considered a malaria zone. Also, there are malaria tablets (with more or less effects) that some people take when staying in such an area.




In Peru there are 5 forms of hepatitis: A, B, C, D, E. Symptoms differ in case of each one.


How it spreads and main characteristics:

Bad hygiene, water, food, transmission from person to person are the most common ways of contracting hepatitis. It is a widespread disease that can happen anywhere at anytime in Peru, without geographical, nor climate-related limitations.



Fever, chills, fatigue, yellowish skin and yellowish eyes, reduction of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, light-coloured faeces etc.

In many cases it is enough to touch an object that was already in contact with someone who has hepatitis.


Prevention, protection:

Take extra measures for good hygiene, avoid eating and drinking at places where there might be poor hygiene in the kitchen, avoid pets and people with bad hygiene.

The illness is curable, but can be long-lasting and can lead to potentially deadly implications.

There are preventive vaccines, which are not compulsory, but might be good to take.




One of the most common diseases spread by animals, usually mammals. Wild animals and home pets alike are sources of this disease.


How it spreads and main characteristics:

Through animal bite or body fluids.

The infected animals contain parasites, which get into the victim's blood and cause the diseases.

It is very dangerous and deadly.

Animals that can spread it are: dogs, foxes, cats, rodents etc. Most commonly it is spread by dogs. Birds are excluded, but not reptilians.

Severe cases of rabies in case of animals lead to excessive salivation and extreme aggressively. Avoid any animal with such signs!



In early stages no symptoms may show (this can last from 10 days to up to a whole year!). In later stages it can lead to hallucinations, paralysis, salivation, breathing difficulty, fatigue, headache, fever, loss of appetite.


Prevention, protection:

Preventive vaccines are very common.

Avoid contact with any stray dog or cat.

Never ignore a bite received from an animal, even if it's a small scratch from the teeth of the animal! Consult a doctor fast and get a vaccine.




Very common tiny insects that live in grass areas.

A very nasty problem that is very common in North America, Europe and Asia as well.


How it spreads and main characteristics:

The tick is a tiny insect that feeds on animal and human blood. It drills itself under skin, often goes into flesh. And it stays there!

The tick itself creates pain and can carry diseases. Itself is a small insect, visible with human eye.



Local pain under skin, perhaps in flesh, swelling, the area where the tick is becomes red and itches, fever, dizziness, nausea, headache might also occur.


Prevention, protection:

Insect-repellant ointment might help, although it is rather more effective in the case of mosquitoes.

Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants at any time when in a grassy area. Parks, pastures, especially places where home pets and farm animals are frequent are high risk zones for ticks.

Avoid sitting or laying in the grass, even with long-sleeved clothes.

If you already got a tick, then go to a doctor. Most likely, they will perform a small surgery to extract it and disinfect the area around. It is very important to get to the doctor as soon as you have noticed it. Complications might lead to blood-infections, as ticks carry  lots of bacteria and can spread diseases.




This illness is also known-as: Guáitira Fever, Verruga Peruana, Carrion's Disease and Oroya Fever.

This is a sand fly-spread diseases. It occurs especially in arid rive valleys, mostly in the western parts of the country, but also in parts of Ecuador and Colombia at altitudes of up to 3.000 m (9.850 ft). However, recent findings have shown that it can occur even at lower altitudes in some regions.


It is an illness of arid areas, not a tropical rainforest disease.

It can be fatal, as it can cause progressive anemia.


There is a specific bacteria that causes this havoc: Bartonella Baciliformis.


How it spreads and main characteristics:

It is spread by the insect called sand fly. It is a minuscule fly.



Local pain under skin, fever, dizziness, nausea, headache.


Prevention, protection:

Take measures to fight against insects. Insect-repellant ointments and sprays could help.

Read the article in the bottom of this page to learn how to avoid insect bites.




The Lous-born typhus variant is more widespread in mountainous areas of Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.


How it spreads and main characteristics:

Rodents, insects - especially fleas are the ones spreading it.



High fever, headache are among the symptoms.


Prevention, protection:

Avoid dirty places where insects and rodents roam.

It can be treated with antibiotics. The most common medication used is tetracycline.


Food Borne and Water Borne Illnesses, Digestive Problems


Various infections with bacteria, viruses and the entry of parasites, as well as certain chemical substances (such as arsenic, for instance) can cause light sickness to severe illness.


Some foods in Peru are made with human spit, others contain rodent meat. Avoid eating anything whose exact contents you do not know.


Avoiding food and water borne diseases is a major priority

A variety of illnesses, diseases are caused by infection, intoxication through food and drinks. Most commonly diarrhea and stomach aches occur. In worse cases it can lead to vomiting. In the latter situation it can last days, even weeks to get cured.

Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to severe dehydration. If it occurs too often, then go, see a doctor. Some very severe illnesses include diarrhea and/or vomiting.

Cholera, hepatitis and and a variety of other diseases can be transmitted through food and drinks.


How avoid to food borne and water borne illnesses, digestive problems

Make sure to drink exclusively bottled water, don't experiment tasting all sorts of local delicacies, don't eat unwashed fruits.

Tap water is not clean enough, it might contain elements that could bother your organism and ruin your trip. Avoid drinking it, unless you can boil it.


Care for your stomach...

Warm liquids are very important for digestion, stomach and intestine cleaning and they're also good for calming the stomach.

We recommend you to boil water with a portable water heater and make yourself instant soups or tea.


How to treat stomach problems?

If it has already occurred than you have to determine whether it was caused by the food and drinks themselves or some sort of bacteria/virus/parasite.

You should do a medical check at the closest doctor in Peru, if you consider that it is more than just common stomach problems.

In any case, take extra precautions during the sickness period: eat more dry food, avoid food with artificial content, avoid alcohol. In some cases it might be a good idea to take propolis against infections - but in some cases this might bother you even more. Best is to consult a local doctor.


Snakes, Mosquitoes, Flies, Leeches...


The most disgusting category of creatures... And they spread most of the worst illnesses.


Insects like roam in forests, wet and warm areas and they are mostly nocturnal. Flies, mosquitoes spread most diseases, like malaria, yellow fever and others.


Snakes like to stay in the sun on rocks, desert areas as well. Be on the lookout for these "fellows" when you are travelling in such areas.

They can not only be poisonous, but they also carry bacteria and saliva. Hence, even snakes that aren't poisonous can spread diseases.

Of course, there are snakes living in forests, pastures as well... In forests, snakes like lying under roots, at the base of trees.

Always look at where you are stepping!


Scorpions are nocturnal. They can occur in many areas.

These creatures are most frequent in deserts and in rainforest areas.


Leeches live in wet areas, such as swamps, dirty waters and can also occur near rivers. They too can spread dangerous diseases directly through blood.


In general it is advised not to walk outside in wilderness areas at night.




Overall a rare diseases in the World, but it occurs in southeastern Peru and in Bolivia.


How it spreads and main characteristics:

Rodents are the main spreaders of plague. Getting in contact with plague-infected people is also dangerous.

One of the animals that can spread this dangerous deadly, considered incurable disease (!) is the cuy (guinea pig). This rodent is eaten in Peru and is considered a delicacy.

Insects can also spread plague.


Prevention, protection:

No need to get alarmed, plague is still rather rare.

There is no preventive vaccine or medicine to take.

Avoid areas declared to be plague areas. Normally these are sealed off from the exterior World.




Another potentially deadly illness.

It is believed that famous Austrian composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died or trichinosis.


How it spreads and main characteristics:

Can be contracted most often by consuming contaminated meat (especially pork) or through animal bite (especially rodents, but also pigs).

What happens in the case of trichinosis is that usually rats have the parasite in them and they get into contact with pigs, whom they bite and transmit the diseases onto. The parasites are minuscule worms that live inside the pig's flesh. When consumed (even though fried), the person gets the tiny worm-like parasites into his organism.

Contaminated pork cannot be effectively treated under heat. Even though the meat is fried or boiled, the trichinella parasite continues to live in it.

The trichinella parasites can grow large enough to be visible with to the naked eye. They live in muscles, they multiply and they can get into all organs, including the heart and the brain.



Might not appear until 7-14 days after consumption. Although, in most cases they do appear 2-3 days after.

Symptoms include: eye swelling, vision weakening, often blurry vision, strong dizziness, strong fatigue, chills, coughs, severe muscle pain, diarrhea, skin itching,  abdominal pain,

If you feel these symptoms, then immediately go to the nearest doctor.


Prevention, protection:

Avoid eating cuy, which is a rodent consumed in Peru. It is a source of trichinosis.

Avoid eating pork at any small or dirty or rural restaurant or privately owned home, while in Peru.

The illness can be treated, but if not treated fast and with proper medication, it can be fatal. In some cases it can lead to paralysis.

Trichinosis cannot be fully treated. The parasites will remain in the victim's body forever. They will hibernate, sometimes start moving. They can be weakened by medication, but they will never die.



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