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Published on Friday, April 03rd, 2009

Great article from Shelter Offshore:

Last year around 20,000 Brits joined the 1.2 million people who decided to visit or live in Panama.

Located in Central America, Panama offers a tropical paradise of Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea beaches alongside cool mountain highlands. It is home to the Panama Canal, often described as one of the wonders of the modern world, and it is becoming a very popular place to retire or relocate to.

It’s always advisable to visit your doctor or a travel health clinic 4-8 weeks before setting off on your journey. Current governmental health advice given for travel or relocation to Panama recommends the following immunizations: Hepatitis A and B are recommended for all travelers over the age of 1, as is the typhoid vaccine. If you’re planning to explore Panama and travel outside of Panama City, the Canal Zone or the San Blas islands you’ll need a yellow fever vaccination too, and if you’re entering Panama from a yellow fever infected country you’ll need to have an international yellow fever vaccination certificate.


The measles mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination is also recommended as is a tetanus-diphtheria re-vaccination if yours has expired. Long term travellers, expats living in Panama and people handling or in close contact with animals are also advised to have a rabies vaccination. Anti malarial drugs will need to be taken if you’re planning a trip to Panama, although malaria is not to be found in Panama City itself or in the former Canal Zone.

Another mosquito born infection that exists in Panama is dengue fever. There’s no immunization program for dengue fever, and the mosquitoes that spread the illness like high population density areas, which is why one of the areas of highest incidence is Panama City. Insect protection measures need to be taken; DEET repellent sprays and creams and long sleeves and hats are recommended.

The most probable travel related sickness you are likely to encounter on holiday in Panama is travellers’ diarrhoea. Don’t drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered or chemically treated. Don’t drink anything unbottled and beware of putting ice in drinks as well. All fruit and veg should be cooked or peeled and stay away from unpasteurised milk or anything made from dairy products such as ice cream which could have been made with unpasteurised milk. Basically, if it isn’t bottled or it’s been sat on a street vendor’s stall half the day, you’re going to regret it…and regret it…and regret it.

If you do end up with an attack, drink lots of (bottled) fluids, and if symptoms persist visit a doctor.

It’s estimated that around 19,000 people live in Panama with the HIV/AIDS virus. The prevalence rate is 1% of adults over the age of 15. Compare that to the UK’s rate of 0.2% and you can see it’s very high. So, simply put, if you’re thinking of sleeping with anyone in Panama, please use protection, 1 in every 100 people has the AIDS virus, those are not the best odds to take a chance with.

Panama Kevin