Rio carnival is a huge pull for travellers heading to Brazil. With over 2 million people attending, it is the biggest carnival in the world, and probably the most colourful!
If you’re lucky enough to be going to the carnival this year, you’ll get the most out of the experience if you prepare beforehand and have a worry-free trip! Here are our top travel health tips to read before you go.
- There have been outbreaks of Yellow Fever in Brazil, including the city of Rio de Janeiro. We advise all travellers that are heading to Rio to ensure that they have received a yellow fever vaccination 10 days prior to travel to ensure they are fully protected.
- Yellow Fever vaccination is highly recommended for certain areas of Brazil, including the cities of Manaus, Belo Horizonte, Cuiaba, and Brasilia
- There is a high risk of Yellow Fever in the Amazon and in Iguazu Falls, so if you plan to do any onward travel after carnival we recommend obtaining the vaccination
- If you are planning to travel to other areas of South America before or after the trip, you may be required to have the Yellow Fever vaccination, and hold proof in the form of an International Certificate of Prophylaxis
Hepatitis A is a viral infection spread via contaminated food and water. A first dose of the vaccination protects for a year, a second dose given 6 months later protects for 25 years+
Typhoid is a bacterial infection through contaminated food and water(gives 3 years protection)
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Polio is a routine immunization given in childhood, but travellers should ensure they have received a dose of the vaccination in the previous 10 years
Measles, Mumps, Rubella – make sure you have received a primary course of MMR vaccinations (usually given in childhood) and unimmunised adults should receive their vaccine
OTHER VACCINES TO CONSIDER
Rabies – Travellers should be aware that Brazil is a high-risk country for Rabies and an intermediate risk country for Hepatitis B and those considering visits to remote regions or for prolonged visits may wish to be vaccinated; especially as urgent Rabies treatment can often be difficult to obtain in certain areas.
Malaria – a parasitic infection that is spread via mosquitos that are most active between dusk and dawn. It occurs in the Amazon region and the northeast of the country, and malaria prophylaxis is strongly recommended if visiting these regions or if going to Manaus.
Dengue Fever, Chikungunya Fever and Zika virus can occur throughout all of Brazil. Brazil These viruses are spread by mosquitos that are most active during daylight hours. There is currently no vaccination or preventative medication for such illnesses.
Minimising insect bites that can transmit disease is essential. This involves covering up with clothing and ensuring insect repellent that contains a minimum of 50% DEET is worn to prevent mosquito bites. Using plug-in vaporisers in rooms to reduce mosquitoes and sleeping under bed nets will help.
Our Ultimate Bug Kit contains everything you need to keep mosquitos at bay.
Zika virus is especially serious in those individuals who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant at the time of travel. As Zika is an emerging virus, it is essential to keep informed with the most up-to-date advice. We are able to offer Zika testing and counselling if you have concerns about Zika virus.
The average temperature in Rio in February is 29 degrees. This means that both heat and sun protection is required. This means avoiding direct sunlight between 11-3pm and seeking shade and wearing a sun cream with a high SPF to prevent burning.
Often travelling to different countries can result in travellers’ diarrhoea, which can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites. It is important to practice safe food and hygiene practices such as:
- Washing hand thoroughly with soap and water or alcohol gel before food consumption
- Ensuring drinking water is safe by avoiding ice, drinking bottled water or having a reliable method of water purification (such as filtering or chemical sterilisation)
- Ensuring food is well cooked and served hot. Avoid salads or fruit that may have been washed in unsafe water
- All travellers should take medications with them to treat travellers’ diarrhoea. This can include rehydration salts, anti-diarrhoeal medication and even antibiotic treatment – see our Worldwide Gastro Kit.
FLEET STREET CLINIC
For more advice from our expert travel team on safe travels in Brazil, book a travel consultation appointment.
By Anna Chapman | Travel Nurse | February 2018
Will you be traveling to Rio de Janeiro to attend or work on the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics games? It is a common phenomenon for people to focus heavily on attending or working at the Olympics – then having to spend much of their time seeking medical care, having to leave early, or even be hospitalised, for a problem that should have been resolved prior to travel.
Take a moment to review our travel health checklist for Rio 2016 to help keep you enjoying your time at the games!
Before you go:
>>Come and see us four weeks before you depart – don’t forget to bring along a record of any past vaccines you have received.
Routine vaccines should be up to date.
- Diphtheria/Tetanus/Polio (within past 10 years)
- Possibly pneumococcal vaccine for adults aged over 65
- Chickenpox (varicella) – CDC recommended as these are routine immunisations is USA
- Whooping Cough (Pertussis) – CDC recommended as these are routine immunisations is USA
Travel vaccines: The following travel vaccines may also be recommended for your trip:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B –
- Yellow fever (certificate NOT required for entry – may be required by other countries for onward travel)
- Flu (Southern hemisphere strains – ask us for details)
While you are there:
2. Insect-borne diseases
Dengue, chikungunya and Zika are mosquito-borne virus infections that cause rash, fever, joint and muscle aches, and eye pain or conjunctivitis.
Rio de Janeiro is malaria-free, with no risk of yellow fever at present.
If you will be travelling to the Amazon basin or other places in South America that have a risk of malaria, you may need to take preventive medication.
Preventing insect-borne diseases
Vaccination gives long term protection against yellow fever and malaria medication is an important precaution if you are at risk.
Bite avoidance is the best available approach.
Reduce your risk of dengue, chikungunya, Zika, yellow fever and malaria by doing all you can to reduce the numbers of bites. Disease-carrying mosquitoes bite during the day as well as in the evening and at night:
- Cover up
- Using plenty of DEET-containing insect repellent
- Wear clothing impregnated with permethrin when working in the open
- Using mosquito nets or plug-in killers in your room at night
- Using our Ultimate Bug Kit.
3. Food and water safety
Gastro-intestinal illness is by far the most likely problem that visitors to the Olympics will encounter. On a recent 8-week stadium tour of South America, up to 40% of tour members experienced travellers’ diarrhoea. Hot, crowded conditions and a “mass gathering” environment add to the risk: it is very important to take extra care with food hygiene.
It is worth investing in a gastro medical kit which contains all the necessary medicines should you get sick at any point during your travels.
4. Sun and heat exposure
- Cover up & wear a hat
- Good quality sunglasses
- Stay well hydrated – even more important should you become ill with travellers’ diarrhoea.
- Use plenty of high SPF sunscreen (Apply insect repellent after sunscreen; reapply both regularly).
5. Sexually transmitted infection
There are very high rates of sexually transmitted infections, blood-borne infections, and HIV. Avoid putting yourself at risk, or travel with appropriate barrier contraception.
6. Personal security and safety
This has been a real problem in Rio in the past, and in other parts of Brazil: be alert to the risks. According to the FCO, “Crime levels are high. Violence and crime can occur anywhere and often involve firearms or other weapons. You should be vigilant, particularly before and during the festive and carnival periods.” Visiting favelas is not advisable.
Rape and other sexual offences against tourists are rare, but there have been attacks against both men and women. Some have involved ‘date rape’ drugs. Buy your own drinks and keep them within sight at all times.
Brazil has a high road traffic accident rate and a zero tolerance policy on drink driving. Always wear seatbelts.
7. Medical kit
Pack a travel medical kit. Include all prescription and over-the-counter medicines you rely on using at home – medicines you take only occasionally as well as regularly (most medicines are easily available in Brazil but are packaged in Portuguese with much scope for confusion). Take first aid items. Include medicines for travellers’ diarrhoea (oral rehydration solution,nausea medication, loperamide, antibiotics). Take insect repellent, plug-in mosquito killers, and permethrin. Consult us for further advice, or to provide bespoke supplies. See more about our kits here.
8. Local medical care
Public hospitals provide free emergency care but are not recommended. English is not widely spoken, you may need an interpreter. Many private hospitals offer a very high standard of care.
- Hospital Samaritano
- Hospital Pro Cardiaco
- Americas Medical City
The emergency ambulance number is 192.
There are no reciprocal health agreements in place so comprehensive travel insurance is essential. We recommend membership of the Blood Care Foundation, available at very low cost, to guarantee access to safe blood for transfusion.
9. Getting there (and back): Flying and DVT
The direct flight time from London to Rio is approximately 12 hours: consider the risk of DVT, wear comfortable non-restricting clothing for the journey, keep well hydrated, stretch and move frequently, and don’t take sleeping pills or excessive alcohol if the journey will be spent in an upright, seated position. Consider wearing compression stockings. If you have any increased risk factors for DVT, talk to us about further steps that may be advisable.
Use our free calculator to see your DVT level of risk by clicking here.
After your return home
10. Post Travel Health
Report symptoms (e.g. fever, flu-like illness, rash, continuing diarrhoea) promptly, seek medical advice.
Don’t forget to mention your time in Brazil to anyone looking after you, if you need medical attention for any reason up to one year following return home.
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (US advice): http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/2016-summer-olympics-rio
National Travel Health Network & Centre (NATHNAC) UK: http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/olympic-and-paralympic-games-2016-brazil/
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control: http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications/Publications/Risk-assessment-mass%20gathering-Rio-2016-10May2016.pdf
Lancet Infectious Diseases: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(16)30069-X/fulltext
Blood Care Foundation: http://www.bloodcare.org.uk
Foreign & Commonwealth Office: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/brazil/safety-and-security