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Costa Rica

Risk / Health Info for Costa Rica

What vaccinations should I get for Costa Rica?

Your shots should be up to date before you leave for Costa Rica. Check with a healthcare adviser at Canadian Travel Clinics to see if you should get vaccinated against typhoid and hepatitis A, which are nasty gastrointestinal illnesses spread by contaminated food and water.

Some travellers to Costa Rica should also consider a hepatitis B shot: children, frequent visitors and people planning to stay for long periods, people who work in healthcare or dentistry. Hep B is also spread through shared or dirty needles and unprotected sex, or by invasive cosmetic or medical procedures. To protect yourself during your time in the Costa Rica, ask your adviser about a vaccine.

Animals in Costa Rica might be infected with rabies, so if you plan to work with animals – particularly bats and dogs – or if you are going to a remote region make sure your rabies shot is up to date. Children are especially at risk of rabies as they may get bitten while playing with animals, often on the face or neck. Runners and cyclists, too, are at increased risk of animal bites. Always get medical advice about an animal bite or scratch in Costa Rica, even if your shots are up to date.

What hospital facilities are there in Costa Rica?

There are adequate private and public medical facilities in San José but facilities are limited elsewhere in Costa Rica. Ambulances don’t always have emergency equipment. You will need travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment or medical evacuation, so consult your provincial or territorial health authority before leaving Canada.

Some beach resorts have decompression chambers, including in Liberia and Samara.

Bring along your doctor’s prescription for any medication you will need, and make sure it includes the drug’s generic name.

The emergency number in Costa Rica is 911.

Protect your health in Costa Rica

There is a risk of mosquito-borne illnesses in Costa Rica including dengue fever, chikungunya virus and Zika. Take precautions against getting bitten: use a reliable mosquito repellent, wear clothes that cover your arms, legs and neck, and sleep under nets or in air-conditioned accommodation.

The Canadian government has information about travelling to Costa Rica to receive medical care.

Guard against “travellers’ diarrhea” by making sure you drink commercially bottled water, including in your ice cubes, and sticking to foods you can peel or have been cooked or boiled.

Altitude in Costa Rica
Parts of Costa Rica are higher than 2,400m, and travellers planning to spend time at a high altitude should take steps to protect themselves against the potentially life-threatening acute mountain sickness. Your healthcare provider can help with this.
Chikungunya virus in Costa Rica
Cases of Chikungunya virus have been reported in Costa Rica. It is spread by day-biting mosquitoes and you can guard against infection by covering up and using mosquito repellents. Infection results in joint pains, fever, rash and headache. It clears up after a few days, but some patients are left with swollen and painful joints for weeks or even years afterwards.
Dengue fever in Costa Rica
There have been cases of the mosquito-borne virus dengue fever in Costa Rica. Dengue fever is also known as breakbone fever because of the severe bone, joint and muscular pains it causes, in addition to flu-like fever and headache. There is no vaccine for dengue fever. Avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellents (50% DEET) and by wearing protective clothing. Sleeping with mosquito nets is also recommended.
Zika in Costa Rica
Global Affairs Canada has issued a warning about the risk of contracting Zika in Costa Rica. Zika is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes, and infection during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects. Women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant should take advice before travelling to Costa Rica. Zika symptoms include rash, itch, mild fever, headache, red eyes, muscle and joint pains. Avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellents (50% DEET) and by wearing protective clothing. Mosquito nets and air conditioning should be used when sleeping.

Recommended Vaccines for Costa Rica

Vaccine NameCourse
Hepatitis A2 Doses
Hepatitis A and typhoid (combined)1 Dose
Hepatitis A (paediatric)1 Dose
Malaria prophylaxis
Typhoid1 Dose
Typhoid (oral)1 Dose
Rabies3 Doses
This is a general list of travel vaccinations and immunisations for Costa Rica. Specific vaccines can only be determined after appointment with our travel nurse.

About Costa Rica

Costa Rica has some of the world’s most progressive environmental policies and is a popular destination for ecotourism. No longer dependent only banana and coffee exports, its economy now relies on pharmaceuticals and financial services, especially as it shares a time-zone with the US, which makes it a convenient location for outsourced services.

top Tips for travelling to Costa Rica

Montezuma offers a bohemian surfing experience, and Guanacaste has a lot of great beaches. Cyclists will particularly enjoy Arenal.