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Most visitors to Honduras experience nothing more serious than a mild case of traveler's diarrhea. Watch what you eat. Food from street vendors looks temptingly delicious, but unless your system is accustomed to such fare, we recommend avoiding it. Drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for several minutes, even when brushing your teeth. Order drinks sin hielo, or "without ice." Mild cases of traveler's diarrhea may respond to Imodium or Pepto-Bismol, both of which can be purchased in Honduras without a prescription.
Mosquitoes are a problem in tropical areas, especially at dusk. Take along plenty of repellent containing DEET. You may not get through airport screening with an aerosol can, so take a spritz bottle or cream. Local brands of repellent are readily available in pharmacies. If you plan to spend time in the Caribbean jungle or the Mosquitía, be sure to wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, sleep under a mosquito net, and spray bug repellent in living and sleeping areas. You should also ask your doctor about antimalarial medications. Do so early, as some such medications must be started weeks before heading into a malaria zone.
Chiggers are sometimes a problem in the jungle or where there are animals. Red, itchy spots suddenly appear, most often under your clothes. The best advice when venturing out into chigger country is to use insect repellent and wear loose-fitting clothing. A hot, soapy bath after being outdoors also prevents them from attaching to your skin.
Consider buying trip insurance with medical-only coverage. Neither Medicare nor some private insurers cover medical expenses anywhere outside the United States. Medical-only policies typically reimburse you for medical care (excluding that related to preexisting conditions) and hospitalization abroad, and provide for evacuation. You still have to pay the bills and await reimbursement from the insurer, though.
Another option is to sign up with a medical-evacuation assistance company. A membership in one of these companies gets you doctor referrals, emergency evacuation or repatriation, 24-hour hotlines for medical consultation, and other assistance. International SOS Assistance Emergency and AirMed International provide evacuation services and medical referrals. MedjetAssist offers medical evacuation.
AirMed International. www.airmed.com.
International SOS Assistance Emergency. www.intsos.com.
International Medical Group. 800/628–4664. www.imglobal.com.
International SOS. www.internationalsos.com.
Wallach & Company. 800/237–6615 or 540/687–3166. www.wallach.com.
No vaccinations are required to enter Honduras. It's a good idea to have up-to-date boosters for tetanus and diphtheria. A hepatitis A inoculation can prevent one of the most common intestinal infections. Those who might be around animals should consider a rabies vaccine. As rabies is a concern, most hospitals have antirabies injections. Children traveling to Honduras should have their vaccinations for childhood diseases up to date.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there's a limited risk of typhoid, hepatitis B, and dengue. Although a few of these you could catch anywhere, malaria is restricted to jungle areas. Dengue, for which there is no preventative vaccine, is a growing concern in Honduras. Use mosquito repellant liberally and avoid contact with pools of stagnant water. If you plan to visit remote regions or stay in Honduras for more than a month, check with the CDC's International Travelers Hot Line.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 877/394–8747 international travelers' health line. www.cdc.gov/travel.
World Health Organization. www.who.int.
While many drugs that require a prescription back home are available over-the-counter in Honduras, exact equivalence might be a concern. Always carry your own medications with you, including those you would ordinarily take for a simple headache, as you will usually not find the same brands in the local farmacia (pharmacy). However, if you forgot, ask for aspirina (aspirin) or acetaminofina (acetaminophen).