Sitting on the equator, Ecuador encompasses a diverse variety of environmental and cultural destinations, including the amazing Galapagos Islands, the Amazon rain forest, spectacular volcanoes, the elevated capital of Quito and the beautiful architecture of the colonial city Cuenca.
The following information provides some broad and general guidelines about health risks and recommendations for travel to Ecuador. This should not be taken as a substitute for a personal consultation with one of our travel health doctors, whose advice will be specific for you and your trip and may include some things not mentioned here.
Most Common Health Issues
Travellers’ Diarrhoea, Giardia and Dysentery and Respiratory Illness
Observe strict food and water safety precautions and observe good hand hygiene. Take a well-stocked kit with guidelines for self-treatment and seek medical advice persistent / severe illness.
Quito sits at an elevation of 2800m where altitude sickness may be an issue for some individual’s .The volcano Cotopaxi rises to an elevation of almost 6000m. Those summiting definitely need to be informed about the risks, prevention and treatment of altitude sickness, which range from inconvenient mild symptoms to more severe life threatening forms affecting the lungs and brain. Some individuals are more prone than others. The medication acetazolamide (Diamox) may be recommended for certain itineraries to reduce the severity of altitude sickness.
Mosquitoes and tropical viruses
In Ecuador mozzies transmit a number of viruses which have been on the increase due to global warming, changing environments and human travel. These include dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika. All of these viruses are preventable by taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites in areas outside of the Andes. Zika may cause birth defects in pregnant women.
There is no risk in the Galapagos or in the Andes above 1500m (which includes Quito). Risk is mainly in the Amazon and some coastal regions in the north of the country. Mosquito avoidance is essential. The need for preventative medication should be discussed with one of our doctors.
Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements and Recommendations
This is a very serious but rare mosquito borne disease, with a similar geographic distribution in Ecuador to malaria (see above). Most travellers to Ecuador require or are recommended the vaccination either for disease protection, prevention of international spread or for bureaucratic reasons, as proof of vaccination may be required on entry or for onward travel (including to other South American countries or on return to Australia). An official international certificate of yellow fever vaccination should be carried with your passport. Advice should be sought from a travel health specialist as Yellow Fever vaccination requirements are complex.
Animal bites and scratches
Rabies occurs in Ecuador, mostly from bat bites. Canine rabies is rare. Consider pre-travel vaccination for prolonged / remote trips, well before travel. Thoroughly flush and disinfect animal wounds and seek prompt medical care.
See Yellow Fever section above. As well as being up to date for routine childhood vaccines such as tetanus, measles and hepatitis B, the following vaccines are often recommended –influenza, hepatitis A, typhoid and rabies. Decisions regarding which are most appropriate depend on duration and nature of travel, itinerary, age and underlying medical conditions.