Costa Rica health risks?
  • What are the health risks for Americans traveling to Costa Rica? I am going on holiday in Costa Rica in a week and didn't realize that I should have gotten vaccinated. I will stick to bottled water but what else should I be concerned about? I'll be staying in San Jose and then going up to Liberia and northwest Costa Rica. Also are you allowed to bring packaged food into the country? Are there any foods I should avoid in Costa Rica? I'm very nervous so please help.
  • I don't see any reason for getting particular vaccinations when visiting Costa Rica, other than that for Hepatitis A, which, now that they have such a thing, I would recommend for everyone whether they travel or not. However, Costa Rica is one of the cleaner Latin American countries, so chances of contracting Hepatitis or otherwise getting sick from something you eat or drink would be, in my opinion, relatively low. Regarding the water, I've drunk out of the tap all over the country and have never gotten sick. In some of the more remote areas, drinking bottled water might be advisable. What I've always do is to ask the hotel staff where I happen to be if I have concerns. Water in the San Jose area is very good. I don't know that much about what packaged foods, if any, would be prohibited. I've never had anything confiscated, although I almost did with large quantities of coffee I brought in from a country I had just left. I explained them away as gifts for when I returned to my home country, so I was allowed to keep it.
  • Costa Rica is generally very safe from a health point of view, but in addition to what Miles said above I would warn that parts of Costa Rica have a malaria risk year-round and that other mosquito borne diseases, like dengue fever, can be a problem. Be sure to take plenty of insect protection and consult your doctor to see if you should be taking medication for malaria.

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