Peru Health Care and Vaccinations
*Vaccination for yellow fever and antimalarial tablets are recommended for travellers visiting jungle areas below 2,300m (7,546ft). Travellers who are only visiting Cusco, Lima, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu do not require a vaccination/tablets.
International travellers are strongly advised to take out full health insurance and should be prepared to pay up front for medical services. Bear in mind there is much scope in Peru for taking part in extreme sports activities, and you should ensure that your insurance covers you for this.
If choosing to take part in an adventurous activity, such as a multi-day hike over 4,000m (13,000ft) or a night-climb of a snowy mountain above 6,000m (19,700ft), you will find there are many tour companies. In the interests of your own safety, it is wise to ask other travellers for up-to-date recommendations of reputable tour operators. Check for yourself any equipment provided in advance. Be aware of your own limitations: it is very tempting to scale a mountain but if you’ve never done anything like it before you may end up being airlifted off a peak.
The emergency telephone number all over Peru is 105, but if you have a medical emergency it is quickest to ask someone to drive you to the nearest hospital, particularly if you are in a very rural area, as waiting for an ambulance could take a very long time.
Food and Drink
Drink only bottled water, and take purification tablets in case bottled water is unavailable. Pasteurised milk is widely available, but if you are staying in mountain towns you will also find that unpasteurised milk is often sold in shops, served in plastic bags. Avoid dairy products that are likely to have been made from unboiled milk.
Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. You will find that there is plenty of street food available in stores and at markets, and you should try to ensure that what you buy has been heated properly and not been left out. In particular, you will find lots of ceviche, a cold seafood dish made using raw fish, which is practically the national dish. It is heavily acidic, which must kill some bacteria; nevertheless be aware that unless the fish is very fresh the potential for food poisoning is high. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
Dengue fever outbreaks are common in the Amazon Basin. Altitude sickness can be a problem if visiting the highlands, and trips should be planned so you spend stretches of time at high altitude in order to give your body time to get used to it, rather than going back and forth between mountain tops and sea level for a couple of days at a time. On arriving at a high altitude, you should take time to acclimatise, particularly before climbing any mountains.
Vaccination against hepatitis B is sometimes recommended, for those who are planning to stay in Peru longer than six months or who could have sexual relations with the local population. If you do require vaccinations for your trip, ensure they are administered sufficiently in advance of your trip. The rabies vaccination, for example, is a series of three shots administered over a month.
Peru is considered to have a very low risk of Zika virus transmission. The World Health Organisation registered one case of sexual transmission of the virus in April 2016. This was the country's first confirmed case of Zika virus infection and although the World Health Organisation does not recommend any travel or trade restriction to Peru, they do recommend basic precautions for protection from mosquito bites should be taken by people traveling to high risk areas, especially pregnant women. These include use of repellents, wearing light coloured, long sleeved shirts and pants and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.