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Risk / Health Info for Guatemala

Do I need shots for Guatemala?

Your regular shots should be up to date before you go to Guatemala. Ask your healthcare adviser for advice on protecting yourself against hepatitis A and typhoid, a pair of food- and water-borne illnesses that cause unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms.

Children, frequent and long-stay travellers to Guatemala should consider getting vaccinated against hepatitis B, which is spread by contact with infected body fluids. So should people planning to work in a healthcare or dentistry setting. Hep B is also contracted via unprotected sex and poorly sterilized needles, including those used in tattooing and piercing, and in invasive medical or cosmetic procedures.

Animals in Guatemala can carry rabies, which can be prevented in humans by a vaccine. If you plan to visit a remote region or if work with animals — especially bats and dogs — consider getting this shot. Children, runners and cyclists are also at higher risk of getting bitten by dogs. Always get prompt medical advice about an animal bite or scratch in Guatemala, even if your shot is up to date.

What healthcare facilities are there in Guatemala?

Guatemala‘s private medical facilities in urban centres are as good as Canada’s, but the publicly financed or rural facilities may not be as well equipped. Payment is often required immediately. You will need travel insurance to make sure your healthcare, including evacuation if necessary, is covered, so check with your provincial or territorial health authority before you leave for Guatemala.

The emergency number in Guatemala is 122.

Protect your health in Guatemala

There is a risk of getting several mosquito-borne illnesses in Guatemala, including Zika, chikungunya, dengue fever and malaria. Avoid bites wherever possible, by wearing clothing with good limb coverage, using a reliable insect repellent, and sleeping under bed nets or in air-conditioned accommodation where possible. Consult your travel healthcare adviser about anti-malarial drugs at least six weeks before you leave for Guatemala.

Stick to commercially bottled water in Guatemala, including for ice cubes. Avoid food if you cannot peel it, or if it has not been cooked or boiled. Observe safe food and water practices, and this will help you to avoid “travellers’ diarrhea.”

Altitude in Guatemala
Parts of Guatemala 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 Guatemala
Cases of Chikungunya virus have been reported in Guatemala. 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 Guatemala
There have been cases of the mosquito-borne virus dengue fever in Guatemala. 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.
Malaria in Guatemala
Malaria prophylaxis will be required for some parts of Guatemala at certain times of year. There is no malaria vaccine, but there are anti-malaria drugs that should be taken before, during and after travelling to certain at-risk countries. Speak with your healthcare provider six weeks before your trip, as not all prophylaxis regimes are appropriate for all regions and all individuals.
Zika in Guatemala
Global Affairs Canada has issued a warning about the risk of contracting Zika in Guatemala. 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 Guatemala. 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 Guatemala

Vaccine NameCourse
Hepatitis A2 Doses
Hepatitis A and B combined (adult)3 Doses
Hepatitis A and B combined (paediatric)2 Doses
Hepatitis A and typhoid (combined)1 Dose
Hepatitis A (paediatric)1 Dose
Hepatitis B3 Doses
Hepatitis B (paediatric)3 Doses
Malaria prophylaxis
Typhoid1 Dose
Typhoid (oral)1 Dose
This is a general list of travel vaccinations and immunisations for Guatemala. Specific vaccines can only be determined after appointment with our travel nurse.

About Guatemala

Guatemala is home to fascinating Mayan archeological sites and lots of volcanoes – some as high as 1,000 metres — and a wide variety of ecosystems. It is an exporter of coffee, flowers and fresh produce, as well as sugar and textiles.

top Tips for travelling to Guatemala

Guatemala is known for its hand-embroidered clothing, especially for children. Antigua Guatemala, with its monuments preserved after being destroyed by an earthquake in 1773, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.