Before traveling to Costa Rica, it is advisable to take certain health precautions. It is recommended that travelers renew essential vaccinations in the months before departure.
The update of diphtheria-tetanus-polio (DTP) vaccination is recommended, as well as rubella-mumps-measles (RMM) vaccination in children; The vaccination against tuberculosis is also advised.
If you want to enjoy the simple pleasures of life without limits alongside native Costa Ricans, vaccinations against typhoid fever and viral hepatitis A and B are recommended.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is only required for travelers from a country where there is a risk of yellow fever transmission. See the list of countries on the World Health Organization website. This vaccination must be carried out at least 10 days before entering Costa Rica. More information is available on the website of the Costa Rican Ministry of Health.
A vaccination against rabies may also be recommended, if you are staying near dense wildlife.
Insurance and health-related costs
It is strongly recommended to have an insurance policy to cover all medical costs (surgery, hospitalization, etc.) and medical repatriation, at the risk of not having access to care, including in case of a life-threatening emergency.
The accessibility and quality of care varies depending on where you are in Costa Rica. For serious health problems, it is best to seek treatment in the private sector in San José and its surroundings. The cost of private care, which is deemed to be of good quality, is very high and a compulsory payment of a deposit upon admission. Except for emergency care, you must pay for all medical attention even throughout the network of Costa Rican social security clinics.
The costs can in no case be covered by your embassy.
Consult your doctor or an international vaccination center to assess your state of health and receive appropriate recommendations, particularly on vaccinations.
Build up your personal supply of medications that you consider essential. Be careful because some drugs prescribed at lower cost in your home country will be very difficult and expensive for you to get them prescribed in Costa Rica.
Avoid having medications sent to you from abroad, because they are likely to end up stuck at customs and subjected to lengthy Ministry of Health procedures which require several supporting documents.
Never consume medications bought in the street (They may be counterfeit). Buy what you need at pharmacies instead. They are widely available in Costa Rica.
Diseases Transmitted by Mosquitoes
Protect yourself from mosquitoes :
– Wear clothing that will cover and protect your clothing: loose, light, light in color and impregnated with insecticide textile treatment (effective for two months and resistant to washing).
– Use skin repellents.
– Protect the spaces in which you live (mosquito nets, electrical diffusers, coils, etc.).
If you come down with a fever during your trip or in the weeks following the return to your home country, seek medical advice immediately. It is imperative to avoid taking aspirin and anti-inflammatory.
Local authorities believe that malaria is being completely eradicated in Costa Rica. The risk of malaria remains low.
Dengue fever is endemic to Costa Rica. The phenomenon increases during the rainy season (from May to November) in the tourist provinces of Guanacaste, Puntarenas, and Limon. The transmission of dengue occurs through infected mosquitoes. Symptoms of the disease are similar to those of the flu.
Chikungunya is an infection caused by the Chikungunya virus
Transmission of Chikungunya occurs through infected mosquitoes.
The most affected region is Guanacaste. Symptoms include fever, joint pains, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and a rash. Symptoms usually improve within a week; however, occasionally the joint pain may last for months or years.
There is currently no preventive treatment for this disease. Mosquito control is highly recommended.
This disease is transmitted by the bites of Aedes mosquitoes. The virus is also sexually transmitted.
The symptoms of this disease are usually mild (fever, headache, pain in the joints, rash) and are similar to those seen in other viral infections such as dengue. However, there can be serious complications. Microcephaly in newborns of pregnant women infected with the virus and neurological complications such as Guillain Barré syndromes have all been documented.
It is advisable for pregnant women or those planning a pregnancy to postpone their trip. Consult a doctor before departure and respect the measures necessary to prevent mosquito bites. Avoid all unprotected sexual intercourse during the trip. When returning from your trip, you should consult a medical specialist in case you show any troubling clinical signs.
Other Health Risks
Typhoid fever is a bacterial disease linked to salmonella. Symptoms include a high fever and digestive disorders. Seek medical consultation urgently because serious complications are possible.
The following precautions are recommended to protect yourself from contamination:
Wash your hands regularly with hydro-alcoholic washing solutions, especially before and after meals or after going to the toilet.
Avoid consumption of raw, under-cooked or poor quality milk, fish, meat, or poultry.
Avoid seafood, reheated dishes, and cold buffets.
Use tap water only if you are sure it is safe to drink.
Keep away from animals, whether alive or dead, and their droppings,
Never consume drugs bought on the street.
In 2018 the UN reported that there were 15,000 people infected with HIV in Costa Rica.
With regard to sexually transmitted diseases, it is recommended to take all the usual precautions in this area and to avoid risky behavior.
In 2020 Costa Rica suffered the severe consequences of Covid-19.
The country reacted quickly and did everything possible to protect the population.