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bchbetha Apr 17th, 2010 08:58 PM

Shots or meds before trip?
I have read the CDC's site but there didn't seem to be any must do, obvious vaccines prior to a trip to Belize. It suggested talking to your Dr.. I called my Dr. who just referred me to the county health department (who I keep forgetting to call). I would rather avoid something like Malaria meds if I can but wonder what the general feelings and consensus are from people who have traveled there recently. We have 3 weeks till we go.


hopefulist Apr 17th, 2010 11:06 PM

I tend to follow the adivce of the CDC:

At least be sure you're up to date on routine vaccines; many adults in the US aren't and some of those illnesses are horrible and still prevalent in developing countries. In my opinion everyone should have Hep A, too. I've pasted some other medical tips from a previous post that have worked for me below. Have a great trip and be sure to tell us all about it!

Here are some of the things that have proved successful for me:

:: I only drink bottled water, never tap (unless I purify it or boil it), even on my toothbrush

:: I avoid fruit I haven't peeled myself unless I trust the preparer (no bags of yummy-looking cut up mangos from street venders, but usually I've felt ok in homestays)

:: I avoid lettuce

:: I only eat street food if it's selling quickly and really hot; most careful folks would say avoid it

:: I take probiotics daily on the road; the one I prefer is here:

:: I take a papain and bromelain digestive enzyme capsule just before or after high protein meals to speed digestion; I don't have a preferred brand but here's a link to some information:

:: When I have a touch of diarrhea, I take 2 or 3 cayenne capsules and repeat every few hours - usually kicks it

:: I carry immodium or the like but rarely need it; it shouldn't be used if you're REALLY sick as it keeps the bad bugs in your system longer

:: I get a prescription filled for the antibiotic Ciproflaxin to carry along in case one of us gets REALLY sick; it's usually available without a prescription in CA

JeanH Apr 18th, 2010 05:37 AM

I also believe that everyone should be vaccinated against Hepatitis A, and if you're an adult, you might as well get vaccinated against Hepatitis B at the same time, since you can get a combined injection.

As for anti-malarials, it depends partly on what part of the country you'll be in. I was on Ambergris Caye for three months, and didn't take them. I haven't heard of any malaria on the island in recent years.

There are some cases on the mainland, if you're going to be in the jungles for extended periods, I'd take the meds. You can use Chloroquine, it's cheap, and doesn't have the amount of side effects that some of the newer meds do.

I eat lots of street food, do eat lettuce, do buy cut fruit from vendors, and in 20+ trips have never been plagued with food born illness while in Mexico or Central/South America.

That doesn't mean everyone should follow my practices. Some people have far more tender GI systems than I do.

qwovadis Apr 18th, 2010 06:19 AM

Correct CDC info here...

precise info depends on where you will be and activity

qwovadis Apr 18th, 2010 06:20 AM

MalariaProphylaxis with chloroquine, Lariam (mefloquine), Malarone (atovaquone/proguanil), doxycyline, or primaquine is recommended for all areas except Belize City.

JeanH Apr 18th, 2010 03:09 PM

In my opinion, using drugs such as Larium and Malarone, when the older drugs such as Chloroquine will work isn't a good idea. It will just breed resistance that much sooner.

Sort of like taking Cipro when plain old Penicillin will work just as well to treat a bacterial infection.

hopefulist Apr 18th, 2010 03:40 PM

Sometimes there are medically important reasons for taking one over the other. The reason Cipro is prescribed is because it's a much broader spectrum antibiotic and will kill things that penicillin won't (basically all gram negative bacterias), so when you aren't in a position of figuring out just what critter is making you sick and you're really, really sick, Cipro is a better choice. Plus I'm allergic to penicillin. I agree that it shouldn't be taken lightly, though.

Lariam and doxycyline have scary side effects imo. Also for a 1 week stay in a malarious area you have to take chloroquine for 6-7 weeks and malarone for about 2 weeks, so what few side effects they might cause are for 1/3 or less the time.

JeanH Apr 18th, 2010 06:08 PM

The point I was trying to make is that all too often people want to take the 'latest and greatest' medication, when in reality the older drugs will work as well and won't encourage the development of resistant organisms.

I'd rather deal with Chloroquine for 6-7 weeks than encourage resistance in the mosquitos that are still sensitive to it, rather than take Malarone and encourage resistance.

hopefulist Apr 18th, 2010 06:15 PM

Point well taken, I just have reasons that the old regulars aren't an appropriate choice for me.

bchbetha Apr 20th, 2010 11:51 AM

Thank you! This has been very informative. I have a call into our county health department for their advice as well.


bchbetha May 18th, 2010 01:52 PM

Just updating to say that we got 3 vaccines- typhoid, polio and hep A. We also took Malarone. I gave the Dr. the 2 malaria drugs the CDC recommended and let him choose. Shots added almost $200 for each of us as they were not covered. We luckily had our malaria covered by insurance and only had to pay $40 out of pocket.

I am thrilled to be discontinuing the Malarone a few days early (with my Dr.'s consent) because I feel terrible. It almost ruined the entire beach portion of the trip because I started having dizziness issues that just made me feel off. They continued when I came home. My husband got bit by a few mosquitoes inland and none on the beach (Ambergris Caye). I did not get bit at all. Other people we talked to had not taken malaria medicine or gotten shots. In hindsight, I am not sure I would do them all again either.

I really appreciated the thoughtful, helpful replies here.


pigflo Jun 19th, 2010 07:17 AM

Hubby and I had hep A and B shots and did the chloroquine, with no side effects at all, we felt more at ease doing this. Just our 2 cents

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