The diverse geography of St. Lucia, from its beaches to its jungles and mountain peaks, can cause several strains of health concerns on the island.
St. Lucia's beaches are beautiful, but they can lead to problems resulting from overexposure to the elements. Take these few extra steps when enjoying the shores:
Take care to limit time in the sun and protect your skin from damage by wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and protective covering;
Remember to drink a lot of water and to stay hydrated because the combination of overexposure to the sun and dehydration can bring on heat stroke or exhaustion very quickly.
One of the most dangerous threats on St. Lucia is from the lancehead, or fer-de-lance, the most poisonous snake found in Central and South America. These reptiles thrive along the coastline of the island. Take precaution by wearing sturdy leather boots when hiking and avoid stream edges and ditches.
The dengue fever mosquito can be found throughout the island, so protect yourself from bites by wearing insect repellent at all times. Take special care during the evenings and rainy season, July through November, as the dengue fever mosquito is more prevalent at these times.
Water is generally considered safe to drink from the tap on St. Lucia, but those preferring bottled water will find it easily at restaurants and hotels. River water is never safe to drink on St. Lucia, as it can contain giardia. It is also a general precaution to wash and peel all local fruits and vegetables before eating.
If you plan to bring prescription medications with you to St. Lucia, be sure to pack them in their original, clearly labeled, containers. Alongside your medication, include a prescription slip from your doctor, or a note detailing why you need the medication on your trip. You may also want to pack a small Travel Medical Kit, which should include the following items:
Vaccinations are not required for entry into St. Lucia unless an individual is coming from an area that has been infected, and in that case individuals are required to be vaccinated at least six days prior to arrival. Although they are not required, vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Polio are encouraged for all visitors before arriving on St. Lucia. Contact the Center for Disease Control before embarking on your trip for the most up-to-date information regarding immunization requirements.
From pharmacies to hospitals, several options for health care are available while you are visiting St. Lucia depending on the severity of your ailment. In an emergency, dial 911 for an ambulance to take you to either Victoria Hospital or St. Jude's, the only hospitals on the island equipped to handle emergency care.
There are five hospitals located throughout the island:
|St. Jude's Vieux Fort||758-454-6041|
Be aware that none of the hospitals on St. Lucia has a hyperbaric chamber, so divers needing decompression treatment will have to be evacuated to the nearest island with proper facilities. Martinique and Barbados are the most common destinations of air evacuations from St. Lucia.
On St. Lucia, most visitors take advantage of in-house doctors that are offered by many hotels and resorts throughout the island. Most hotels have a doctor in residence on the property, and those that don't will have a doctor on call. A visit from a doctor in residence will cost around $15(USD) and a visit from an on-call doctor will generally cost more. Check with your hotel about whether they provide an in-house doctor.
Be sure to check with your insurance provider about coverage for medical expenses while traveling overseas. A trip to the hospital can be quite expensive on St. Lucia, especially because many serious cases have to be evacuated to neighboring islands. You may find it worthwhile to acquire traveler's insurance if your existing insurance doesn't offer adequate coverage.
Visitors to St. Lucia will find that simple precautions can ensure a healthy and happy trip.
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