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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > Costa Rica

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Costa Rica Health Care and Vaccinations

Title Special precautions
Yellow Fever No*
Typhoid Yes
Tetanus Yes
Rabies Sometimes
Malaria Sometimes
Hepatitis A Yes
Diphtheria Sometimes

*A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate must be presented on arrival to the country if you are coming from a Yellow Fever-infected country. Such countries include Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gambia and Sudan.

Health Care

Standards of health and medical hygiene are among the best in Latin America, although public facilities may not come up to par with more developed countries, particularly in more rural areas. Both public and private hospitals are available but tourists may only use the publicly-run healthcare service known as Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) in genuine emergencies. Private treatment is on the whole, of good quality and much lower cost than equivalent services in the US. Most doctors will expect payment in cash. Tourists visiting Costa Rica are recommended to take out health insurance before travelling.

Food and Drink

Mains water is normally heavily chlorinated and, whilst relatively safe to drink, may cause mild abdominal upsets. Drinking water outside main cities and towns may be contaminated and sterilisation is advisable. Bottled water is available and is advised for the duration of the stay, especially for those who are liable to sensitive stomachs. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. Local meat, poultry, seafood, fruit and vegetables are generally considered safe to eat.

Other Risks

Costa Rica is considered to have a high risk of Zika virus transmission. The World Health Organisation advise pregnant women and travellers planning for pregancy postpone all non-essential travel to the country. All travellers should take basic precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites. These include use of repellents containing 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin on exposed skin, wearing light coloured, long-sleeved shirts and pants, and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering. Women who are pregnant, at risk of getting pregnant, or planning pregnancy should seek further advice from their doctor before travelling to Costa Rica.

Hepatitis B and C occur. Outbreaks of dengue fever are common in lowland areas, notably on the Caribbean coast and these have been on the rise since early 2013, so it is advised that you wear insect repellent. Most of Costa Rica is malaria-free apart from the Limon province. Tourists visiting this area should take appropriate precautions. Rabies is widespread throughout Central America; for those at high risk, vaccination before arrival should be considered. If you are bitten, seek medical advice without delay.