When traveling to any foreign country, it's wise to be aware of the health risks involved. While one of the main hazards of visiting Curaçao can be the sun, travelers should be aware of other dangers that could pose a risk to their health.
While Curaçao is generally considered to be a safe place for tourists, vacationers should consult their doctor or government health officials (for example, the Center for Disease Control) for information on needed vaccinations and health risks. Vaccinations and medications can prevent travelers from getting so sick that they require emergency medical attention or transportation back home while on vacation in Curaçao.
Travelers from the United States should check with their health care professional to make sure they are up-to-date on vaccinations such as Hepatitis A, tetanus, and the flu, although these are not mandatory vaccinations for traveling to Curaçao. Travelers coming from regions where yellow fever is present must show proof of vaccination before being allowed to enter Curaçao. Thankfully, yellow fever, malaria, rabies, typhoid, and various strains of Hepatitis are generally considered not to be a problem for visitors to Curaçao, but travelers should consult their health care professionals and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov) for up-to-date information. Travelers should also take precautions against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The sun can be a potential health hazard for travelers in Curaçao. Visitors should take precautions to protect themselves from the harsh Caribbean sun by wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, aloe vera, and hats. Travelers should stay hydrated and beware of symptoms such as dizziness that can preclude sun poisoning and sun stroke.
Mosquitoes can also be problematic in Curaçao, and cases of dengue fever have been reported. When mosquitoes are apparent on the island, travelers are strongly advised to wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes, and hats, and to also use an insect repellent containing DEET. Travelers who will be sleeping where mosquitoes could get to them should invest in a mosquito net.
Travelers should also use common sense when eating or drinking in Curaçao. Tap water is sea water that has been distilled in a local factory and is considered safe. Bottled water is also widely available. Travelers should always be cautious of purchasing food from street vendors, as conditions may not be sanitary. Ciguatera poisoning can also be a problem with many species of reef fish, and barracuda should be avoided. When it comes to other types of food, travelers should exercise common sense. Never eat uncooked food or fruit that has not been peeled and washed. Travelers who experience continued diarrhea should consult a health care professional.
Travelers who are visiting the Caribbean can consult their doctor for a list of recommended medications to take with them for complications that may arise during their travels. For starters, you should include a Travel Medical Kit in your luggage, and this should include the following:
For longer stays, travelers should also have their prescription drugs filled for the duration of their stay. Make sure to pack them in their clearly labeled original container, and include a signed prescription slip or note from your doctor detailing why you are traveling with the medication.
Americans who are traveling abroad should contact their health insurance company to research provisions for emergency medical coverage and care if a problem occurs while abroad. Travelers requiring hospital care or an emergency flight back to the United States can incur substantial medical bills. Travelers whose health insurance companies do not provide provisions for emergency medical coverage should consider obtaining some other form of travel insurance. Travelers may also wish to consult the Medical Information for Americans Abroad brochure by the Bureau of Consular Affairs. If you need to purchase medicine while in Curaçao, over the counter products can be bought at boticas. More serious medical care can be acquired at one of the island's hospitals or private clinics. Some of the island's medical facilities include:
|Antillean Adventist Hospital||Groot Davelaarweg nr. 1
|St. Elisabeth Hospital||Breedestraat 193(O)
Emergency phone: 910
|Sahoury Medical Institute||Landhuis Pos Cabai
|The Taams Clinic||N/A||Phone: 599-9-736-5466
St. Elisabeth's is considered the primary hospital on the island and has decompression facilities for scuba divers, and most tourists with minor ailments will seek care with the Sahoury Medical Institute. This medical facility has made it easier for tourists to get medical help on the island by having made previous arrangements with many international insurance companies. Additionally, Sahoury has a special team that they send out to local hotels to care for sick tourists, rather than make them go to the hospital.
Travelers to Curaçao should not encounter many serious health risks while visiting the island. Nevertheless, take care to protect yourself from the sun, mosquitoes, food toxins, and other threats while on vacation.
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