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Before You Go: Traveler Healthcare in the Dominican Republic

Zika Virus Warning

Most of the hotels in the Dominican Republic have medical dispensaries and all of the cities and tourist centers have modern medical facilities offering primary care. Elsewhere, medical faclities can be limited, and medical staff often don‘t speak English. Be prepared to pay cash prior to treatment, even in emergency situations

Sun & Heat Conditions: The sun is strong in the Caribbean. Try not to stay out in the heat and sun for prolonged periods, especially in the late morning to early afternoon. Prevent dehydration by drinking a lot of fluids, and taking rehydration mixes if necessary. Apply sunscreen often and consider wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.

Dengue Fever & Chikungunya: The Dominican Republic has a high incidence of mosquito-bourne diseases, especially during the hot season from May to November.

Take precautions against bites by packing mosquito netting, full-coverage clothing and footwear, as well as mosquito repellent that contains at least 35% DEET.

Dengue fever and chikungunya are viral infections. Symptoms of Dengue fever include headaches, fever, a skin rash, vomiting, and joint and muscle pain.

Common symptoms of chikungunya include fever and joint pain, as well as headaches, muscle pain and a rash.

At the time of posting, there’s no commercially available vaccination against either Dengue fever or chikungunya. Neither Dengue fever nor chikungunya are contagious.

Malaria: Malaria is a parasitic infection caused by mosquito bites. Symptoms of malaria include fever, vomiting, headaches and fatigueMalaria is not contagious.

Malaria is a low risk on resort areas where they fog, but if you‘ll be spending much time elsewhere, be sure to consult with a doctor about taking anti-malaria tablets before you leave. You should also pack mosquito netting, full-coverage clothing and footwear, as well as mosquito repellent that contains at least 35% DEET. You may also want to stay indoors during dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

Zika Virus: If you‘ll be visiting a region at risk for the Zika virus, you should limit your risk of Zika virus-causing mosquito bites by packing mosquito netting, full-coverage clothing and footwear, as well as mosquito repellent that contains at least 35% DEET. You should also practice safe sex if having sex with a new partner.

The Zika virus is a mild form of Dengue fever, and though the Zika virus doesn’t typically cause any symptoms, it can cause birth defects. At the time of posting, there is no commercially available vaccination for the Zika virus. The Zika virus is caused by mosquito bites and can be spread through sex.

Cholera: Cholera is a bacterial infection transmitted through contaminated food and drinks. Symptoms include severe diarrhea, vomiting, muscle cramps, dehydration and rapid heart rate.

HIV/AIDS: HIV is prevalent throughout. Take necessary precautions to prevent HIV, which is a virus that can be spread through blood and bodily fluids. It is essential that you not have unprotected sex with a new partner to avoid contracting HIV. Condoms are available everywhere in pharmacies and convenient stores.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, you should get to a hospital as soon as possible. Some hospitals and clinics offer antiretrovirals for free to rape victims, but they must be taken within 72 hours to be effective.

Rabies: Rabies is prevalent in the Dominican Republic. If you‘ll be doing outdoor activities, or visiting remote areas coming into contact with animals, including dogs and cats, consult with your doctor about getting a rabies vaccination before you go.

The rabies vaccine is given in 3 doses within 28 days.

If you’re bringing prescription medications:
  1. Check to see if there are restrictions on your medication in your destination country, especially if the medication contains narcotics, amphetamines or other often controlled substances
  2. Bring medications in their original, labeled container. Never carry loose medication
  3. Include your dated prescription signed by your doctor, certifying the condition the medications are prescribed for, dosages and their generic drug names. Ensure the name on the prescription, container and your passport all match.
  4. If you need syringes or needles, your doctor includes their need on the prescription.
  5. Before you leave, find out how you can legally access medications in the case of loss, theft or emergency – even OTC medication may require documentation from your doctor. Never have controlled substances mailed to you
  6. If legal, consider bring a second container of any essential medications, in case one is lost or stolen. Pack the primary bottle in your carry on, and the second one in another location. Personal-use quantity restrictions may limit you to 30-or 90-day supplies
Travel Health Insurance Checklist:
  1. Investigate travel health insurance options
  2. Be sure the plan includes any pre-existing conditions you have, and be sure to declare them before you go
  3. See if you need an “Extreme Sports” add-on policy if you’re planning activities like scuba diving or spelunking
  4. Find out the payment or reimbursement process and 24-hour emergency coverage contact