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Safety & Health

LOCAL DISEASES OF ECUADOR

Yellow Fever
Malaria
Typhoid
Hepatitis A

Although these diseases exist in Ecuador, there still isn't a very big chance that you'll catch them if you come. As long as you know where the high risk area are in the country and take all the necesary precautions if you're heading to one of them. Also it's important to pay attention to notices of outbreaks, whether it's by looking at the news or asking your embassy. The following are diseases that exist, or existed recently in Ecuador, where are the high risk areas and waysto prevent contractng them.

Yellow Fever
Yellow fever occurs in certain jungle locations in Ecuador, as well as in the rest of South America and Africa. In South America, Yellow Fever is a very rare cause of illness for travelers, but, if you plan on spending time in the rainforest or coastal lowlands, it's a good idea to get a vaccination.  The vaccine is relatively inexpensive and it is a worthwhile investment if you consider that you could end up in an Ecuadorian hostpital for a few weeks.

Like Malaria, Yellow Fever is a disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Likewise, you should follow the same precautions as with Malaria.  Use whatever kind of insect repellent you find most affective (like taking lots of vitamin B), protective clothing, and mosquito netting to minimize the risk of bites from infected mosquitoes.

The Yellow Fever vaccine is required for entry into certain South American countries. As of February 2000, the Yellow Fever vaccine was not required to enter Ecuador unless you were coming from a country that is considered a Yellow Fever risk area. In the event that the situation changes suddenly, we recommend that you check with the Ecuadorian Consulate in your country before departing for Ecuador.

Should you decide to receive the Yellow Fever vaccination, you will be issued an International Certificate of Vaccination that will satisfy entry requirements for all persons traveling to or arriving from countries where there is active or a potential for Yellow Fever transmission. The vaccine and the Certificate are good for 10 years. Most countries will accept a medical waiver for persons with a medical contraindication to vaccination (for example, for pregnant women or for infants less than 4 months old). CDC recommends obtaining written waivers from consular or embassy officials before departure.

If you live in the United States, the Yellow Fever vaccine can only be administered at Yellow Fever Vaccine Centers designated by your state health department.   Your doctor can not administer the Yellow Fever vaccine.


Malaria
On account of Ecuador's diverse geography, there is risk for Malaria in some parts of the country and not in others. Mosquitoes, the primary carriers of malaria, do not like heights. As a result, travelers run little risk of getting Malaria while in the mountains and mountain valleys of Ecuador's High Sierra Region. On the other hand, because mosquitoes thrive in the Ecuador's hot and humid Coastal region and the Amazon jungle lowlands, you must take the appropriate precautions while traveling in these regions. According to CDC, all the provinces along the eastern border and the Pacific coast, including Caņar Cotopaxi, El Oro, Esmeraldas, Guayas (including Guayaquil), Los Rios, Manabi, Morona-Santiago, Napo, Pastaza, Pinchincha, and Zamora-Chinchipe are risk areas. CDC does not consider Quito and vicinity, the central highland tourist areas, and the Galapagos Islands to be risk areas.

Travelers can eliminate much of the Malarial risk by taking prescription antimalarial drugs and protecting themselves against mosquito bites. If you will be visiting an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed by your physician.  You can protect yourself from mosquito bites by using insect repellent (the repellent must contain DEET), always wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and sleeping beneath permethrin-impregnated mosquito nets.

There are several drugs on the market that prevent malaria (called "antimalarials"). The kind of antimalarial you need to take depends on where in South America, or the world for that matter, you will be traveling. Mefloquine (brand name LariamŪ) is the recommended drug for risk areas in Ecuador. Mefloquine should be taken 1 week before arrival in the malaria risk area, once a week while in the Malaria risk area, and once a week for 4 weeks after leaving the Malaria risk area. If you become ill with a fever, even months after your trip, inform your doctor that you traveled to a Malaria-infected area. Also, as with any prescription drug, be sure to follow the label directions and ask your doctor if have questions or suffer side effects.

Typhoid Fever
Typhoid Fever is a severe, sometimes life-threatening, illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. Typhoid Fever is common in the developing world, including many parts of Latin America. Therefore, if you are traveling to Latin America you should take the appropriate precautions.

The Salmonella typhi bacterium lives only in humans. Persons infected with Typhoid Fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, some persons that recover from Typhoid Fever continue to carry the bacteria. They are called carriers. Both persons infected with Typhoid Fever and carriers shed the bacterium in their stool.

Typhoid Fever is generally spread from eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected with or carrying the Salmonella typhi bacterium and/or if sewage contaminated with the bacterium gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Avoid getting Typhoid Fever by getting vaccinated against it, avoiding food and drink you suspect may carry the bacterium, and washing your hands often.

If you contract Typhoid Fever you may suffer from all or some of the following symptoms: a fever as high as 103° to 104° F (39° to 40° C), a rash of flat, rose-colored spots, weakness, stomach pains, headache, and loss of appetite. See a doctor immediately if you think you have Typhoid Fever. Deaths rarely occur when the disease is diagnosed and treated early. You will probably be given an antibiotic to treat the diseases, and after the treatment is begun, people usually begin to feel better within a few days.


Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A, highly endemic throughout the developing world, is a viral disease transmitted principally through contaminated food and water, though transmission may also occur through person-to-person to contact. The risk of Hepatitis A infection is highest for travelers who live in or visit rural areas, spend significant time trekking in the backcountry, and/or eat in restaurants with poor sanitation. Incidence of Hepatitis A in Ecuador has declined over the years but the disease is still common. The Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin (IG) is recommended for all South American travelers.

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