Travel Advice for Peru
Peru is a popular destination for holidaymakers, in particular those who like to experience the Inca trail. Before travelling there though, you should ensure your vaccinations from the childhood immunisation schedule are complete, and you may need others besides these. During your appointment it is highly recommended to speak to the Travel Vaccination Clinic about the following:
- Where in Peru you plan to stay and visit – and for how long
- Your general state of health before travelling
- Any history of disease you are aware of
- The style of travel and accommodation you are planning; whether you will be doing organised tours, camping, hiking or staying in hotels or 5 star accommodation etc.
If you are not up to date with all of your childhood vaccines, or are unsure, the Travel Vaccination Clinic doctor can administer a booster shot if needed.
Altitude sickness in Peru
Because some parts of Peru including Macchu Picchu and Cuzco, Punya and the Colca Canyon, are more than 2500 above sea level, altitude sickness may affect travellers to Peru, especially those who climb or ascend rapidly.
Altitude can affect anyone, including the physically fit and it is more likely in those who have not properly acclimatized before continuing their climb, those who have had alcohol or exercised before they adjusted or have breathing problems. Altitude sickness can be life threatening and if you are planning on mountain climbing while in Peru you should speak to the doctor about the risks associated, signs to watch out for and how to manage them.
What extra vaccinations are needed for Peru?
Apart from the usual vaccines you would have had from childhood, there are some diseases found in Peru that may require additional vaccines or preventative medicine before you travel there. These include hepatitis A, typhoid, hepatitis B, malaria and yellow fever. While rabies has been found in Peru it is not considered a major risk for normal travel except for certain groups discussed below.
Hepatitis A and Typhoid
It is possible to get hepatitis A or typhoid while in Peru if you drink contaminated water or eat contaminated food. Both these diseases are present in Peru no matter where you are visiting or staying.
The Travel Vaccination Clinic recommends the combined vaccine against hepatitis A and typhoid for most travellers to Peru as a preventative measure. This vaccine lasts for a number of years once given so will be valid for further travel you might do.
Hepatitis B in Peru
It is possible to contract hepatitis B in Peru from sexual contact, needle exchange or if bodily fluids are exchanged with someone else who has hepatitis B. For this reason, the hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for anyone likely to meet a new sexual partner, get a tattoo or piercing or have any other medical procedure while in Peru. If you are unsure of your risk level for hepatitis B you should speak to the doctor about having the vaccine.
While malaria is not generally present in highland tourist areas including Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca and southern cities of Arequipa, Moquegua, Puno, and Tacna other parts of Peru may have mosquitos carrying Malaria, especially those less than 2000m in elevation.
Malaria may be passed on through mosquito bites, and you should take care to prevent bites by wearing repellent, long loose clothing and using a mosquito net where appropriate. You may be recommended anti-malarial drugs to have with you during your travels too.
Is there a risk of Yellow Fever in Peru?
Some parts of Peru may have yellow fever present, including the following regions less than 2300m in elevation: the entire regions of Amazonas, Loreto, Madre de Dios, San Martin, and Ucayali and designated parts of several other regions including Northern and North Eastern Cusco. You should speak to the Travel Vaccination Clinic about exactly where you plan to go while in Peru to see if the yellow fever vaccine is recommended.
When you return to Australia, if you were in the designated parts of Peru during the previous six days with yellow fever endemic or transitional risk, you will be required to produce a certificate of vaccination against yellow fever before being allowed back into Australia. Endemic or transitional risk is where yellow fever infection has been present in the recent past. You should speak to the Travel Vaccination Clinic about the risk of yellow fever when travelling to Peru and the doctor can recommend and administer the vaccine before you travel.
Is there risk of rabies in Peru?
While it is true that the rabies has been found in Peru, it is not considered a major risk for general travel, and the Rabies vaccine is only recommended for those who will be:
- Engaged in lots of outdoor activities such as camping, hiking or caving where they may encounter animals such as bats, rats, dogs or other mammals often
- Working with animals
- Spending a lot of time in rural or remote areas
Children who may play with animals or may not report contact with animals or wildlife