Our advice is meant for healthy travelers. We advise pregnant travelers or people using medication to contact your doctor or health care center.
The Ministry of Health of Costa Rica does not give any special warnings. Be sure, look at your embassy’s website if there are any warnings.
In tropical countries there are diseases that may influence a healthy grow of the baby. Because the first three months of pregnancy are so important for an unborn child maybe it is wise to postpone a holiday to a tropical country.
Zika virus may form a risk, although till so far there is no scientific evidence that a connection exists between Zika virus and micro encephaly. Luckily Zika does not exist at great extend in Costa Rica. There have been a few cases of pregnant women having Zika, but all babies were born healthy.
Vaccinations are not required in Costa Rica.
If you have been for 24 hours or longer in Panama, Colombia or other countries where yellow fever exists (a stop over at the airport does not count) you have to prove that you have been vaccinated against yellow fever.
Vaccinations against Diphteria, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitus A&B are recommendable. Ask your doctor about traveling in tropical countries.
No vaccinations exist for Dengue, Zika or Chikungunya.
Malaria is almost extinct in Costa Rica. No need for malaria medication.
Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue virus and Malaria
These four diseases have been known for a long time in tropical countries.
Zika-, Chikungunya- en Dengue- virus are being transferred by the Tiger Mosquito (Aedes Aegypti) and exist in areas where hygiene is not a priority. Empty cans, trash and old car tires are ideal breeding locations for the larvae of the mosquitoes. To do any harm the mosquitoes have to live in an area where there is Zika, Chikungunya or Dengue virus. First the mosquito has to bite someone with the disease to be able to transfer it to someone else that is being bitten by this mosquito.
The mosquito has a habitat of 300 to 500 meters around the place where it was born.
Zika: is a mild disease. One out of four people will really be sick, it can last 2 to 7 days. Symptoms are: fever, skin rash, eye infection, muscle pains.
Dengue comes in different gradations, from a few days to a longer period of being ill. Symptoms are: fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle pains and nausea.
Chikungunya starts with fever and joint pains, followed by headache and skin rash. Recovery may last a longer time.
Malaria is almost extinct in Costa Rica, unless you plan to visit Indian reserves far away in the inlands, where tourists almost never come. Because in these very far-away areas malaria will sporadically occur, in 2013 there were 7 cases, all Indians living in such an area. Malaria is being transferred by the Malaria Mosquito.
There is a medicine to prevent malaria. However the pills are expensive and not without any risk. Better avoid those far-away areas.
Everywhere in Costa Rica you will find mosquitoes. They are mostly active just before and after sunset. The Tiger Mosquito (Aedes Aegypti) is also active during daytime. You will find more mosquitoes in places where water is abundant, especially in areas 500 meters around still water. Mosquitoes hate wind, and try to find warm, dark, sheltered places, such as under tables, or in the woods. So ventilate your bedroom, with open windows and fan on.
Mosquitoes do not like repellent with deet. They do like nice smells like deodorant, fragrant shampoo and shower gel. So use neutral soap and deodorant.
It is advisable to avoid risky places, such as backbone places where hygiene is not a priority.
On the beach you can find sand flees around sunset, jumping on your legs. Not nice, lots of itching.
In every supermarket you can buy insect repellent with deet in all gradations. At the ‘farmácia’ (drugstore) you can buy gel against itching.
Do you use medicines? Bring your prescription. You will need it if you have to buy new medicines during your holiday.
In some cases you have to show a doctor’s declaration, especially in case of syringes and heavy medication.
Loperamide is a heavy medicine against diarrhea, but not suitable for pregnant women or persons using other medication.
Food and drink
In many places in Costa Rica it is said that water is safe to drink. Mostly because of the fact that (much) chlorine is being added. We advise to drink bottled water (and a lot in this hot climate). Just to be sure!
In restaurants the quality of the food is usually good. But be careful at busstops and little roadside stalls.
If you get sick
Almost everywhere there are ‘farmácias’ = drugstores where you can get all kinds of medication, often without a prescription. In most cases a doctor is available at the farmácia.
Throughout the country you will find hospitals and health care centers, either belonging to the ‘Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social’, the National Health Care, or private. For more serious cases better go to a private clinic.
And of course any Holland Hotel owner will be pleased to help you to get well as soon as possible.