Brazil is one of the most exciting travel destinations in the world, with its mix of cultural and natural attractions enticing millions of visitors each year. From vibrant Rio De Janeiro through to white sandy beaches and lush rainforests, the adventurous spirit of this country offers so much to the curious traveller. The diverse ecosystems of Brazil boast the greatest collection of plant and animal species on earth, with a great network of national parks operating across the county. When visiting Brazil, it’s important to be aware of the health risks, with precautions needed and a number of vaccinations recommended.
Brazil is the fifth largest nation in the world, and the only country that has both the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn running through it. The diverse environments and topography of Brazil give it a wide ranging climate, including six major climate sub-types. While it’s mostly tropical Brazil is also home to desert, equatorial, semiarid, oceanic, and subtropical areas. When visiting Brazil it’s important to be aware of climate conditions, with rainfall and humidity posing a number of health challenges.
Even though there is no real dry season in Brazil, there are significant variations in rainfall throughout the year. The ideal time to visit varies according to the region, with southern Brazil experiencing most of its rainfall between December and February, the Amazon and Pantanal between December to March, and northern and eastern Brazil between March and June. It doesn’t really matter which time of year you visit Brazil however, with warm temperatures recorded all year round and rain typically falling in short sharp bursts.
While Brazil is a fairly safe place to visit at any time of year, it’s important to take appropriate health precautions, and make sure you’re up to date with your vaccinations. Two childhood vaccines that often need updating are tetanus and measles. In addition, an influenza vaccine is recommended for travel at any time of year, even in people who would not normally get it for the Perth winter flu season. The reasons for this is both an increased exposure to airborne viruses when travelling, and the more significant impact of having the flu whilst travelling, in terms of consequences for your holiday.
Other vaccines are also required when visiting Brazil. Everyone ought to be immunised against hepatitis A, and all travellers will generally have the Yellow Fever vaccine. There has been an increase in Yellow Fever activity recently in Brazil and the vaccine is very effective in preventing this serious mosquito borne virus. In addition the certificate that comes with the vaccine may need to be shown when crossing borders. The vaccine can only be administered in government licensed clinics in Australia.
Other immunisations that may be considered include typhoid, hepatitis B and rabies, depending on the length and nature of the trip. As well as Yellow Fever, there are a number of other important mosquito borne viruses that are also a risk in Brazil, and South and Central America in general. Dengue fever is the most prevalent of these and will result in at least a week or two of significant illness. Zika is a milder illness, but has the potential for devastating effects on an unborn child. Anyone planning a pregnancy when travelling to South and Central America ought to seek expert travel advice prior to planning and booking their trip. At this point in time there are no readily available vaccines for dengue or Zika, so strict avoidance of particularly day time biting mosquitoes is essential. Malaria is a further consideration for travel to the Amazon, and anti malarial medication will be recommended in many situations.
There are other health risks associated with Brazil, most of which can be avoided or managed with a little education and common sense. Contaminated food and water can be a problem in some parts of the country, with travellers diarrhoea likely to have an impact on the enjoyment of your trip. The risk can be minimised by following safe eating and drinking practices, and its wise to travel with a medication kit in order to manage illness whilst away.