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Staying Healthy on the Road Medical info, e.g. malaria, vaccinations, travel medical tips, medical insurance, where to find a doctor.
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  #1  
Old 11 Dec 2009
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Medical precautions before traveling to Mexico

Hello all,

My wife and I are traveling to Mexico this summer and I was wondering what are the medical precautions we need to take before we go(like vaccinations)?

Also, if we need to have vaccinations, what's the best place to have those done? We live in the Dallas, TX area.

Thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old 11 Dec 2009
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At substantial risk of sounding like a jerk (again), may I politely suggest you go to either CDC, WHO and/or Traveldoc sites and do some reading on your own? You´ll find that not only is Mexico a great big country with lots of variation in, for example, the prevalence of malaria and dengue, but that your own traveling habits and tolerance for risk greatly affect the need for advance and ongoing health interventions.

And not to take anything away from the very reliable, balanced and comprehensive health care information available on this site.....but you´d rather stake your health and the health of your family on what you learn from the CDC than what you hear from some anonymous poster like myself. Right?

Safe journeys,

Mark
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  #3  
Old 12 Dec 2009
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markharf, you did take a risk. You rolled the dice and you crashed and burned. Don't go to Vegas. In fact, if you are taking risks in life, knowing what that you will probably fail, like you apparently knew you would, I wouldn't get on a motorcycle again.

And to be honest, I can't believe any kind of world traveler can afford to have your demeanor.
-------------------------------------------------------------

To all other members here besides markharf, this was my first post here at the HUBB and I was directed here from another message board because I was told that the HUBB was the place where the most experienced riders and travelers shared information.

My intent was to maybe get some people to comment on what they went through in preparation for traveling to Mexico. And I when I say Mexico, I mean all of it. We're traveling from stem to stern and I know the country is big. I didn't realize that the size of the country automatically precluded it from having people give advice about it. Sorry.

I wasn't looking to speak to a doctor either or get treatment online. I was looking for a bit of first hand information on what it would take to prepare, which is what I thought this site was about.

I also asked a question about a clinic in the Dallas area that caters to travelers. Like markharf said, I could go online and find out names and addresses of several different places, and I did before I came here. But I was looking for people's opinions of places they had already been to or learning about places that I hadn't found.

Rest assured I have done research on the CDC's websites and a myriad of others. I was looking for opinions of people who had done the things I'm about to attempt. What was good? What was bad? What do I need to know that the CDC isn't telling me? Surely markharf, doesn't believe that every traveler just needs to read CDC reports and they're good to go wherever?

Once again, I'm sorry if these questions are too extreme for the intellect of this site. If the moderator feels the question doesn't meet the standards here, delete it and I will quietly go back to where I came from.

Otherwise, I'm definitely still open to advice about my original post.

Thanks
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  #4  
Old 12 Dec 2009
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Heh heh. Pretty funny. I found this response after riding four hours in the dark from sea level to 13.5k feet on a dirt, single lane road, unmarked and unsignposted, with sheer exposures in multiples of thousands of feet, through the Peruvian Andes. It wasn't bad, really....except for the part where a construction crew had wet the roadway to keep the dust down, yielding a morass of slick, sloppy muck. Oh, and I did this with a stock KLR headlight.

So why do people get so offended when they draw responses to exactly what they wrote? If I post "Hey, I'm going to Africa next month: is it dangerous?" I expect to get roasted---here no less than other sites---or at best totally ignored. If I want to be taken seriously, I state what I already know or have tried, and if I crave worthy information I describe the bits I'm uncertain about.

My own response would have been different if you'd said "I've been studying the CDC recommendations, and it appears that malaria is an issue only in Chiapas and neighboring areas, so I'm wondering which antimalarial to take considering I'll only be in that area for two weeks....." or "I've been looking for travel clinics in my area and I've found several but I wonder if there's anyone on this list who's got a specific recommendation...." or even "What are people's thoughts on the need for a rabies jab? I'm going to be doing volunteer work nursing orphaned vampire bats during this trip, and my doctor thinks it might be a good idea....."

But: "We're going to Mexico....what are the medical precautions we need to take?" End of story? To me, this sort of post seems disrespectful...but maybe that's just me. Again.

To which I'd like to add that anyone, moderators included, who feel that I'm out of line in any way, at any time, are entirely welcome to say so; on or off list. This includes the OP. I promise to listen carefully. In fact, I'm going to post this, then report myself to the moderators to make sure I hear from them directly.

Safe journeys!

Mark

(safely installed in a totally risk-free hotel room in Huarez, Peru)
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  #5  
Old 12 Dec 2009
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trampaslake,

And FWIW, a moderator sent me this note:

"Having read this thread, it sounds to me like Mark responded to the first post when he was feeling a bit cranky and out of sorts and now can't quite figure out why he got an equally surly reply. A good example of why email and postings on a website require a little more care and tact in wording than a face to face exchange where it can be clarified right away when you realize the person took it wrong. I can see where the original poster might have felt slapped, if that was his first visit and post. Just my 2 cents worth."

Yup, got it in one.

Much as I dislike them, smilies were invented for a reason - it's the ONLY way you have to indicate emotion / facial expression / joking tone of voice etc. EXTREMELY careful wording is also need to really make it clear what you're thinking.

I've seen literally thousands of posts where what comes across isn't really QUITE what was meant.

'trampaslake' could have clarified that he had already searched around, as it's not clear to me either whether he had or not.

BUT that doesn't mean he needs a slap up the head either. Perhaps a question to start off - "Have you looked...?" would have been more helpful.

We try on this site to HELP everyone as best we can - and we think most of our posters are also very helpful, and do their best, but none of us our perfect. You haven't heard one of my rants about err... well let's not go there...

Now let's all be nice and try and get along shall we
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  #6  
Old 14 Dec 2009
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Since noone else has poked their head above the parapet in case Markharf is still feeling cranky , and pointing out I've never been to Mexico, I'd say get as many jabs as possible as soon as possible, even ones you may not think you need in case you change your plans at short notice.

I got most of mine free at my doctors in Newmarket, and paid for ones at the travel clinic in Cambridge (who were cheeky since they offered to do all of them for a £ without mentioning the GP would do them free), but as thats the UK and nowhere near you I guess that not very helpful!?!

Happy travels!

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  #7  
Old 15 Dec 2009
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzly7 View Post
Since noone else has poked their head above the parapet in case Markharf is still feeling cranky....

Sorry, me and my demeanor are too busy world-traveling to be feeling cranky <<<There it is: my first ever smiley. How'd I do?

Thanks for the feedback, Grant and mods, and best of luck to the OP.

Mark

(from Nazca)
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  #8  
Old 15 Dec 2009
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Same shots needed for Canada--none....Have a great trip.
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  #9  
Old 15 Dec 2009
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tabernac ! Si vous demeurez au Cannada il faut obtenir quelques shots .
Really if you are going to Mexico or travelling anywhere from home get your Hep A and Hep B shots (Twinrix) , tetanus and do do do get DUKORAL vacinated against travellers diarrhea ( so you wont hav a lot of doodoo!) Thats about it .
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  #10  
Old 16 Dec 2009
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This is very interesting and the reason I posted the question.

Thanks or all the replies so far!
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  #11  
Old 21 Dec 2009
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Medical prep for Mexico

Howdy

Just returned from three weeks in the Copper Canyon area and Northern Mexico. Get the Hep A series, more important than the Hep B unless you are gay, but still get the Hep B if you can. Swine flu, too, get that. Get your doc to write you a three day script Cipro supply and get an RN to tell you how to use it if you get a GI bug. Carry peptobismol tablets and chew two of them if you start to get a little loose. The active ingredient in peptobismol prevents some of the bad stuff from attaching to the lining of your upper GI system and when it gets a little lower your normal gut bacteria will kill it.

Add bananas to your diet, two or three a day if you can get them, esp if you are on a bike and not walking about as much as you normally do. If you get bad diarrhea don't take something to stop it the first day or two, drink lots and lots of gaterade, three to four quarts a day, liquid diet only first two days then bananas, rice and bread for the next two days. If you start vomiting AND have diarrhea, get to a clinic as soon as you can. With diarrhea that lasts more than a day, you can monitor your hydration status by looking at your hand veins. Best is when you drop your hand, they fill up nicely full and then slowly raise your hand to 45 degrees above parallel and it should take from 3 - 5 seconds for your hand veins to go flat again. You should do this test as you are riding daily too, it is easy to get a deficit of fluid when you are just sitting and riding all day, even with a camelbac. If you get sick for a day or two, also check your hydration status also by checking your pulse when resting. If, without a fever, you are running 120 beats a minute or more when laying flat you are likely two to four liters of fluid short. You will need to drink 8 - 10 liters over 24 hours to get it back.

Hydrate well before you go. It takes five days of pushing fluids, eight to 12 liters a day to completely hydrate. Alcohol is the most potent diuretic you can buy over the counter, next is caffeine, then comes any drink containing more than 16 percent sugar, like any of the soft drinks. One 12 ounce can of Coke will require 64 ounces of clear water to replace what the sugar takes from you. The reason for this is that high amount of sugar in your gut draws in water to the gut and slows it going from the gut to the blood. Remember this if you get sick and avoid them. While gaterade contains sugar, if you have diarrhea and are holed up somewhere in a hostel it is the safest thing you can hydrate with and you can get a liter bottle of it for around 20 to 24 pesos anywhere in Mexico.

Buy a Steripen and drink the tap water. Steripen it if you want. A good hand pump with a filter too. You'll be sick of paying for overpriced Costco bottled water in a day or two. Eat off of the street vendors, often. Carry sunscreen and use it daily even when it is cloudy.

The normal vaccine schedule is posted on-line and I'm sure you've seen it. You can buy aliens from outer space from a Mexican pharmacy without a script, but be careful. If you get the wrong kind for what ever bug you've got or wrong doses of antibiotics you'll wipe out your gut bacteria and end up with a nasty C. Diff infection, just like motoadventuregal has posted on her current ride report on Advrider. This will result in diarrhea that will be really hard to stop, plus really bad belly pain. It requires the correct antibiotics to treat and only with a stool sample lab test will a clinic be able to diagnose it, so you'll end losing in the end, anyway. (pun intended) Best to carry a three day supply of Cipro from your family doc and filled at a pharmacy here where you know what you're getting. If you get sick and the three day supply of cipro and clear fluids don't fix it or you start vomiting, get to a clinic. They are cheap in Mexico and you'll get great care.

I've been all over the world, ate on the street in Asia, Europe, and South America. I always stay at the cheapest, dirtiest hostels or hotels, or camp where I can, I drink the local water if the natives are drinking it, and I use a steripen if I an in a remote area and sometimes filter it too. I carry a Jet Boil stove and boil it before making coffee and tea. Only once in 30 years of traveling like a bum have I gotten sick, I did get cholera once and it about killed me. Talk about pissing out your arsehole, but that is another story....Carry a water filter, that was the lesson I learned.

BTW, in some remote areas of Mexico and SA there is a nasty little bug commonly called the "kissing bug" It will give you a parasite that is really hard to kill and harder to diagnosis. It commonly gets into the heart and causes heart failure , occasionally gets into the eyes too and you go blind. You can google it. Unless you are staying in really slum like areas you shouldn't have a problem. They are like little roaches, live in the cracks of walls and come out at night. They bite you next to the eyes and then shit on your skin next to the eyes, You wake up with itching around the eyes and rub the feces into your eyes and that is how you get infected. Don't rub your eyes when you wake up. In some areas, even in the Southern states of the US, they live in the soil and infect campers. If you are concerned, a two dollar mosquito head net from REI and a little DEET around your cheeks will help keep you protected.

Hope this helps. I have some really expensive initials behind my last name that some people mistake for someone who knows about medical stuff, but really I learned most of it by staying at a Mexican Holiday Inn. PM me with specific questions if you want.

james
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  #12  
Old 28 Feb 2010
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Enprize, Thanks so much for the great info. Fun to read also
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  #13  
Old 2 Mar 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enprize View Post
Howdy

Just returned from three weeks in the Copper Canyon area and Northern Mexico. Get the Hep A series, more important than the Hep B unless you are gay, but still get the Hep B if you can. Swine flu, too, get that. Get your doc to write you a three day script Cipro supply and get an RN to tell you how to use it if you get a GI bug. Carry peptobismol tablets and chew two of them if you start to get a little loose. The active ingredient in peptobismol prevents some of the bad stuff from attaching to the lining of your upper GI system and when it gets a little lower your normal gut bacteria will kill it.

Add bananas to your diet, two or three a day if you can get them, esp if you are on a bike and not walking about as much as you normally do. If you get bad diarrhea don't take something to stop it the first day or two, drink lots and lots of gaterade, three to four quarts a day, liquid diet only first two days then bananas, rice and bread for the next two days. If you start vomiting AND have diarrhea, get to a clinic as soon as you can. With diarrhea that lasts more than a day, you can monitor your hydration status by looking at your hand veins. Best is when you drop your hand, they fill up nicely full and then slowly raise your hand to 45 degrees above parallel and it should take from 3 - 5 seconds for your hand veins to go flat again. You should do this test as you are riding daily too, it is easy to get a deficit of fluid when you are just sitting and riding all day, even with a camelbac. If you get sick for a day or two, also check your hydration status also by checking your pulse when resting. If, without a fever, you are running 120 beats a minute or more when laying flat you are likely two to four liters of fluid short. You will need to drink 8 - 10 liters over 24 hours to get it back.

Hydrate well before you go. It takes five days of pushing fluids, eight to 12 liters a day to completely hydrate. Alcohol is the most potent diuretic you can buy over the counter, next is caffeine, then comes any drink containing more than 16 percent sugar, like any of the soft drinks. One 12 ounce can of Coke will require 64 ounces of clear water to replace what the sugar takes from you. The reason for this is that high amount of sugar in your gut draws in water to the gut and slows it going from the gut to the blood. Remember this if you get sick and avoid them. While gaterade contains sugar, if you have diarrhea and are holed up somewhere in a hostel it is the safest thing you can hydrate with and you can get a liter bottle of it for around 20 to 24 pesos anywhere in Mexico.

Buy a Steripen and drink the tap water. Steripen it if you want. A good hand pump with a filter too. You'll be sick of paying for overpriced Costco bottled water in a day or two. Eat off of the street vendors, often. Carry sunscreen and use it daily even when it is cloudy.

The normal vaccine schedule is posted on-line and I'm sure you've seen it. You can buy aliens from outer space from a Mexican pharmacy without a script, but be careful. If you get the wrong kind for what ever bug you've got or wrong doses of antibiotics you'll wipe out your gut bacteria and end up with a nasty C. Diff infection, just like motoadventuregal has posted on her current ride report on Advrider. This will result in diarrhea that will be really hard to stop, plus really bad belly pain. It requires the correct antibiotics to treat and only with a stool sample lab test will a clinic be able to diagnose it, so you'll end losing in the end, anyway. (pun intended) Best to carry a three day supply of Cipro from your family doc and filled at a pharmacy here where you know what you're getting. If you get sick and the three day supply of cipro and clear fluids don't fix it or you start vomiting, get to a clinic. They are cheap in Mexico and you'll get great care.

I've been all over the world, ate on the street in Asia, Europe, and South America. I always stay at the cheapest, dirtiest hostels or hotels, or camp where I can, I drink the local water if the natives are drinking it, and I use a steripen if I an in a remote area and sometimes filter it too. I carry a Jet Boil stove and boil it before making coffee and tea. Only once in 30 years of traveling like a bum have I gotten sick, I did get cholera once and it about killed me. Talk about pissing out your arsehole, but that is another story....Carry a water filter, that was the lesson I learned.

BTW, in some remote areas of Mexico and SA there is a nasty little bug commonly called the "kissing bug" It will give you a parasite that is really hard to kill and harder to diagnosis. It commonly gets into the heart and causes heart failure , occasionally gets into the eyes too and you go blind. You can google it. Unless you are staying in really slum like areas you shouldn't have a problem. They are like little roaches, live in the cracks of walls and come out at night. They bite you next to the eyes and then shit on your skin next to the eyes, You wake up with itching around the eyes and rub the feces into your eyes and that is how you get infected. Don't rub your eyes when you wake up. In some areas, even in the Southern states of the US, they live in the soil and infect campers. If you are concerned, a two dollar mosquito head net from REI and a little DEET around your cheeks will help keep you protected.

Hope this helps. I have some really expensive initials behind my last name that some people mistake for someone who knows about medical stuff, but really I learned most of it by staying at a Mexican Holiday Inn. PM me with specific questions if you want.

james

Wow! Thanks for all the info!

My wife and I have been to a travel doctor and we're in the process of getting just about everything you've suggested.

Your input is greatly appreciated.
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  #14  
Old 3 Mar 2010
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Excellent info from enprise, precise and to the point. Although I mostly agree with the info he has provided, I must say that if you choose to drink the tap water, tread with caution! remember, Latin America doesnot for the most part flush it's toilet paper. Most small town have primitive water resources, and couple this with the countless dead dogs you will discover along the way, all this washes into the aquafer and ultimately ends up in the water. See what the locals are drinking before drinking it yourself. A 25 litre bottle of water costs roughly twice as much as a 1 litre bottle, so you will find that safe water is easily accessible, just ask a resturaunt owner to fill your bottle and give him one or two pesos if they ask, which they usually don't. After living here for a number of months ans currently travling for the last month, I have yet to buy a bottle of water but drink my fill every day.
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  #15  
Old 3 Mar 2010
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As Ron says , the tap water may not be quite what you expected it to be.
Aquifer contamination is a consideration but not the main culprit. Most of the newer Mexican and CA municipal water sources are quite good but it is what occurs after the water leaves the municipal mains which causes the problem.
There is a persistent problem of water pressure loss and inadequate volume . To overcome this nearly all houses and hotels in Mexico are equiped with header tanks on the roof. Water from the city main is run directly into the small tanks on private houses but at the large buildings like hotels the lift to the roof and the required volume is too great . Therefor they run the city water into a large in-ground cistern and from there use their own electric pumps to move it up. These in -ground cisterns are often in the floor of the entry way , the parking lot or... ... and are very often left with lids off so that dirt, rain runoff and other crud can get in. Many places they burn the used toilet paper and if it is windy this wonderful stuff gets blown around the yard and guess where ! Then on the roof tanks, hotels and private houses, the lids are usually lost so that birds and other wildlife can bathe and drown etc in them. You get the picture
If you are at hotels they usually supply a jug of drinking water in the hall or lobby. Fill your own bottles here. Some higher end places have their own extra chlorination equipment and have labels on their taps indicating thus.
I have always had no problem using tapwater in my own bottles then adding 2 drops of chlorine bleach for each liter, let stand 30 min. Make enough to last all day for drinking and washing fruit.
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