With the 2016 Rio Olympics approaching, many Aussies will be heading to South America to experience the incredible cultures the continent has to offer.

However, South America also exposes Australians to health risks that we don’t necessarily face back home, and can leave us with holiday memories we’d rather forget.

Travel health specialist Dr Sarah Chu gives 4 pieces of advice to prepare your customers ahead of Rio:


1. Before you go – Prepare your health


Your customers will no doubt be excited about their next big trip – heading overseas usually means a flurry of preparing all those fun activities and sights to see.

Some travellers however can get caught up in all this and forget to also prepare their health.

When your customers are booking their trip with you, make sure you’re encouraging them to book an appointment with a GP six to eight weeks before travel.

A doctor can offer protective options against infectious diseases, including some vaccines, or may need a second appointment, so planning ahead matters.


2. Enjoy the cuisine – safely


Brazil is a country with vibrant cultures and cuisine. However, some travellers can quickly become sick while trying to keep up with the locals.

This leaves Aussies exposed to food and water-borne diseases, particularly in areas of poor sanitation and hygiene standards.

Eating and drinking tips for travellers:

Eat foods that are cooked and served hot (not reheated!)

Steer clear of uncooked or undercooked food, salads or fruit and vegetables you cannot peel and unpasteurised dairy products (don’t assume milk and cheese are pasteurised)

Only drink bottled, boiled or chemically disinfected water and avoid drinks with ice – freezing water into ice preserves rather than kills germs.

If you want to taste the local cuisine, stick to this rule: boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it.


3. Protect against mozzies


Being on holiday usually means lots of time spent outdoors. Countries such as Brazil expose travellers to mosquitoes that can carry malaria, dengue fever, or yellow fever.

There are a few simple ways travellers can prevent getting bitten:

Use a repellent with DEET or picardin

Wear light coloured, long sleeved clothing, socks and closed shoes

Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase pre-treated clothing – but never directly apply to skin.

Seep in screened accommodation or under permethrin treated bed nets


4. Ready yourself for Rio’s best events

There are plenty of reasons South America’s liveliest fiesta has a reputation – things are wild! Travellers can often get caught up in the excitement, so don’t forget to remind your customers to keep safety in mind.

Tourists are often targeted by criminals, and petty theft such as pick-pocketing. Bag snatching is also common in Brazil. Leave things like expensive jewellery and watches at home, and keep cash and credit cards to a minimum.


Top Tip – Returning from Brazil

Australian customs require travellers to provide a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate on arrival at the airport. Doctors will be able to provide further information on yellow fever vaccine clinics around Australia.

For more information on travelling healthy, please visit: vaccinehub.com.au

Have you had many bookings to Brazil for the Olympics?