Traveling anywhere, even close to home, exposes you to a different environment. When you enter an unfamiliar place, you encounter health risks you don’t see every day. Therefore, your risk of illness or injuries likely increases.
International travel, even to one of the U.S.’s closest neighbors, Mexico, offers the same risks. However, because it is a foreign destination, travel comes with compounded chances of causing health problems. Multiple factors create a risk stamp that poses risks to travelers.
Though visiting Mexico is usually perfectly safe, you still have to keep your wits about you. Taking care of yourself in an unfamiliar environment should remain your top priority. With a little attention to detail, you won’t have to think twice about your own health.
1. When Planning Travel, Tell Your Doctor
International travel can prove grueling, particularly for those with existing medical needs. You might not have access to the same care, medications or treatment options were something to happen.
Remember, all health care is personal. Your doctor has a good overview of your needs as a patient. They can help you determine how, where and when to take precautions when traveling.
2. Check with the CDC, WHO and State Department
Take the time to learn more about the health and safety risks that might exist in Mexico. A variety of groups can provide this information, including:
Read the health and safety information provided by these sources. First, these guidelines help make sure you don’t encounter disease risks that might exist in certain parts of the world. Furthermore, they work to ensure that you, as a foreigner, don’t pose safety risks to locals, as well. It is a two way street.
3. Understand Disease Risks
Often, your disease risks in Mexico are exactly the same as in the U.S. The common cold, traveler’s diarrhea, heart attacks—they are all threats. Yet, certain issues might appear with more prevalence in Mexico. Therefore, you have more risks of contracting them. Some of these include:
- Zika—a mosquito-borne virus
- Swine Flu—the virus was initially recognized in humans in Mexico in 2009
- Malaria—another mosquito-borne disease. Though rare in Mexico, the threat still exists
- Hepatitis—a virus affecting the liver
- Various parasitic infections might result from the consumption or contamination of raw materials
However, since you know these risks exist, there are steps you can take to avoid them.
4. Learn About Mexican Medical Care and Access
Should you encounter a health problem to any extent while in Mexico, you should seek medical care. Often, you can access safe, reliable care at Mexican resorts and medical centers. Nevertheless, in certain areas, a lack of access to medical care might exist. As a result, it’s best to make arrangements to seek care from verified, reputable sources.
One difference that Americans will likely notice is the effectiveness of their insurance. In most cases, American policies will not cover you in Mexico. Therefore, you might need a variety of different policies when traveling in Mexico.
- Travel insurance can help in the event of limited emergency medical needs. This might include coverage for emergency evacuation back home following an illness.
- Mexican auto insurance might provide medical expense coverage. This can help in the event of injuries while you drive.
- An international health insurance plan can help you receive covered care. In most cases, you can receive treatment from reputable providers. These policies usually both have long- and short-term coverage options.
Talk to a licensed insurance agent who deals with foreign insurance policies. It is almost always better to have protection in the event of health threats.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Once you arrive in Mexico, a simple way to avoid health risks is to take care of yourself. There are many practical ways that you can keep yourself safe.
- While there are no required vaccinations to travel to Mexico, awareness is key. Have all of your shots up-to-date and consider receiving boosters as needed. Shots to receive might include tetanus, rabies hepatitis and diphtheria.
- Travel with an adequate supply of medical supplies. These might include
- prescription medications
- Travel-sized remedies
- Any prophylaxis, like Malaria prevention medication
- Sunscreen and bug spray
- It is often recommended that you avoid drinking non-potable water in Mexico. Consider drinking bottled water at all times.
- Do not consume raw, undercooked or unprocessed foods. Meat, leafy greens and dairy products might all prove harmful in the right conditions.
The best way to avoid health problems while traveling is to not take unnecessary risks. Do not put yourself knowingly in harm’s way, and know your own limits. The better you take care of yourself, the lesser your chances of sustaining harm. That way, you’ll have a greater chance of making your trip to Mexico a success.