Vaccination and Travel Information for Belize

BELIZE

 Information current as at:  February 2009 by The D2 Medical centre No 1 Fitzwilliam Street Upper Dublin 2 ph 6314500. The experts in travel vaccines Dublin 2.


Climate: The climate is Subtropical with a brisk prevailing wind from the Caribbean Sea. High annual temperatures and humidity. Dry and hot climate from January to April, with rainy season from June to September..

The average temperatures in Belize City are 20-27°C in the winter and 24-30°C in the summer

Capital City: Belmopan
Altitude: 60 metres above sea level
Main Cities: Belize City, Corozal, Punta Gorda
Population: 262,999 (July 2002 est.)
Land Area (sq km): 22,966
Currency: 1 Belizean dollar (BZD), fixed to the US dollar
Languages: English (official), Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna (Carib), Creole
Religions: Roman Catholic 49.6%, Protestant 27% (Anglican 5.3%,
Economy: Bananas, sugar, citrus, clothing, fish products, molasses, wood



 The D2 Medical advises all travellers to be 'up-to-date' for:

CHOLERA Immunisation is neither required nor recommended.
DIPHTHERIA We recommend the initial childhood series of vaccinations in the first five years of life, with booster doses at ages 11 years, 45 years, and 65 years. Travellers are recommended to have the vaccine 10 yearly esp. if travelling to developing countries, or where there may be a risk of contracting the disease.
HEPATITIS 'A' Immunisation is strongly recommended but not compulsory.


HEPATITIS ‘B’ Immunisation is recommended for travellers who will be in the area for 1 month or more.
Transmission of Hepatitis B is through sex or contact with contaminated blood, needles and syringes.

POLIO Adults who are travelling to areas where poliomyelitis cases are occurring, or where the contracting the disease is possible, and who have received a primary series with either IPV or OPV should receive another dose of IPV before departure. For adults, available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV.


RABIES Immunisation is recommended for travellers who will be staying in agricultural, remote or rural areas for 1 month or more.

TUBERCULOSIS (TB) Immunisation is not compulsory, and is not routinely recommended for adults.
Children should be immunised at any age.
A skin test is available if immune status is in doubt, and this is recommended pre- and post- travel for those going to ‘at risk’ regions.

TETANUS We recommend the initial childhood series of vaccinations in the first five years of life, with booster doses at ages 11 years, 45 years, and 65 years. Travellers are recommended to have the vaccine 10 yearly esp. if travelling to developing countries, or where there may be a risk of contracting the disease.
TYPHOID FEVER Immunisation is recommended, particular for all long term travellers to the region.
YELLOW FEVER A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from infected areas.

* World Health Organization:
The following countries and areas are regarded as Yellow Fever infected areas:

Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan (south of 15°N), Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia.
America: Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.




Belize has the highest incidence of malaria in the Americas. Risk is present year-round in all rural areas of the country under 400 meters elevation. Overall, incidence is highest in the western and southern districts. Most falciparum cases are reported from the northern districts. There is no risk of malaria in Belize City. P. vivax causes 96% of cases, P. falciparum 4% ( though in some areas this is much higher ). There are occasional cases due to P. malariae. Chloroquine-resistant falciparum malaria has not been reported.

 

Warnings:

  • All travellers are advised to ask their health professional about the side-effects of the various medications, as problems may occur with balance/fine skills, heart disease, blood pressure pills, epilepsy, mental illness and pregnancy.
  • Not all medications are suitable for everybody, neither are any of the recommended medications 100%effective. Other mosquito preventative measures are recommended in association with any recommended medication (see below).

 

Self Treatment Regimes:

  • Travellers who develop fever should seek immediate medical help. If Malaria is confirmed then self-treatment regimes are available. Travellers may wish to discuss these with their health professional BEFORE they travel. They are best used in association with a firm diagnosis of malaria (which may be done either by a laboratory of with the aid of a ‘rapid diagnostic kit’).

 

General Advice on Mosquito Prevention.
Malaria is transmitted by mosquito bite, so recommend all travellers to the country to:

  • cover exposed skin after dusk when they are at most risk for getting bitten
  • use insect repellent with DEET in it.
  • return before dusk from country areas where malarial mosquitoes are the most active
  • sleep in screened room or use a bed net, remembering to tuck in the edges & spray inside.
  • sleep in air conditioned rooms or rooms with fans. Vapour pads and smoke coils also help. Insect buzzers are useless.




GENERAL
Medical care is limited in urban areas; it is extremely limited or even non-existent in many rural areas. Serious injuries or illness may require evacuation to another country. Doctors and hospitals often require immediate cash payment for health services, sometimes prior to providing treatment. Many medications are unavailable so travellers to Honduras should bring with them any prescribed medicine in its original container and in amounts commensurate with personal use. A copy of the prescription and a letter from the prescribing doctor explaining the need for prescription drugs facilitates their entry into the country.

HEALTH, ACCIDENTS AND INSURANCE
Accidents and injuries are the leading cause of death among travellers under the age of 55. Most are caused by motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes; and to a lesser degree, drowning, aircraft crashes, murders, and burns.

Heart attacks cause most fatalities in older travellers, but infections cause only 1% of fatalities in overseas travellers. Generally, infections are the most common cause of travel-related illness.

Travellers are advised to obtain, before departure, travel health insurance with specific overseas coverage. The policy should include a medical evacuation benefit. Check for any exclusions that are part of the policy, and keep in mind that many insurance policies have terrorism exclusion clauses. The D2 Medical recommends that the policy also provide 24-hour access to an assistance centre that can help arrange and monitor delivery of medical care, and determine if air ambulance services are required.

                                                                                                                                             DR JOHN J RYAN MEDICAL DIRECTOR

Yellow Fever Map
 


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