Peru – Health and Safety
It’s not unusual to suffer from altitude sickness in the Andes or have tummy problems, despite Peru’s wonderful culinary reputation. Peru’s many climates mean that travelers will face different risks in different areas. While food-borne as well as mosquito-borne infections happen, many of these illnesses are not life-threatening – but they can certainly ruin your trip. Besides getting the proper vaccinations, it’s important that you take insect repellent and exercise care in what you eat and drink.
Lima has high-quality 24-hour medical clinics, and English-speaking doctors and dentists. Often embassies have a list of providers. Rural areas may have the most basic medical services. You may have to pay in cash, regardless of whether or not you have travel insurance.
Life-threatening medical problems may require evacuation if you are in a remote area.
Pharmacies are known as farmacias or boticas and are identified by a green or red cross. They offer most of the medications available in other countries. Usually each city has one pharmacy open all night.
Many of the following diseases are spread by mosquitoes. Take precautions to minimize your chances of being bitten:
- Zika Virus
The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those traveling to Peru.
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 hepatitis A and typhoid. There is also some advice about protection for hepatitis B, rabies and yellow fever – but this depends to some degree on where you are heading and what you are doing. Check the CDC site above for the latest.
Tap water in Peru is not safe to drink. Boiling water vigorously for one minute is the most effective means of water purification. At altitudes over 2000m (6500ft), boil for three minutes. You can also disinfect water with iodine or water-purification pills or use a water filter or Steripen.
Here is a link to the US State Department Travel Advisory for Peru for the latest information on traveling to Peru.
The US State Department recommends not travel to:
- The Colombian – Peruvian border area in the Loreto Region due to crime.
- The area in central Peru known as the Valley of the Rivers Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro (VRAEM) due to crime and terrorism.
Street crime, including muggings and thefts, is a significant problem in Lima, Cuzco, Arequipa and other major cities. Be vigilant in public places and when withdrawing cash from ATMs. Avoid walking alone in quiet areas or at night.
Tourists have been targeted and robbed by bogus taxi drivers. Use a taxi registered at the bus terminal or book one from a reputable company. If you hail a taxi on the street, make a note of the registration number before getting in. Be particularly careful when arriving at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport. Bogus taxi drivers and thieves pretending to be tour operators sometimes approach arriving passengers.