Mexico – Health & Safety
The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those travelling to Mexico.
The CDC recommends being up to date with all your regular shots. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot
They also suggest be vaccinated for typhoid and hepatitis A. There is also some advice about protection for hepatitis B, rabies and malaria – but this depends to some degree on where you are heading and what you are doing.
As with many developing countries it is wise to be careful about what you drink and eat.
The cliche about Mexico is that tourist shouldn’t drink the water. South of Cancun, even the locals don’t drink the water. The water table in the Yucatan is very close to the surface and is contaminated by garbage dumps and runoff. Even in the poorest sections, the corner store sells huge bottles of purified water and kids drag carts filled with bottles to sell. You can buy bottled water anywhere, but when you buy water, make sure it is factory sealed to guarantee it is safe to drink. Crystal is one popular brand in the Mayan Riviera.
Fruits and vegetables usually come directly to the store from local farms and are not washed well. Many vegetables are contaminated by fertilizer (usually pig or human dung) and will make you sick. Most of the restaurants catering to tourists purify their fruits and vegetables with iodine drops before serving them. If they go through this process, there will be a note about it on the menu. If it isn’t written on the menu, ask or don’t eat uncooked or cold fruits and vegetables.
One culprit for illness is salsa. In some restaurants, it sits out all day and the same salsa is used for multiple customers. Even if the salsa is changed with every patron, remember that salsa is RAW VEGETABLES which is on the list of no-nos. Resist, unless the menu says “our vegetables are purified”.
Seafood can also get you sick if it is spoiled or mishandled. Cooked seafood is the safest. Only eat raw seafood in nicer, very busy restaurants.
Here is a link to the US State Department Travel Advisory for Mexico for the latest information on travelling to Mexico.
In light of escalating drug-related crime in Mexico’s big border cities, safety is a valid concern. In November 2018, the US State Department issued an extension of its travel warning for citizens travelling to Mexico. According to the State Department, drug cartels are battling each other for control of the drug trade and are simultaneously fighting government attempts to crack down on their activities. The result has been an increase in violent crime in parts of northern Mexico. While foreign tourists are not typically targeted on purpose, they occasionally find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Visitors to Mexico may become accidentally involved in carjackings, robbery or other violent crime situations.
Complicating the issue is the lack of news information coming from the affected areas. The cartels have begun to target Mexican journalists who report on drug-related murders, so some local media outlets are not reporting on this issue. The reports that do trickle back indicate that kidnappings, murders, robberies and other violent crimes are on the rise in border areas, particularly in the cities of Tijuana, Nogales and Ciudad Juarez.
The State Department has classified five regions of Mexico as unsafe for tourists. These regions include Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas.