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The Dominican Republic


Health & Safety

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Health & Safety Precautions in the Dominican Republic

... while on vacation in the Dominican Republic

Because there is nothing worse than getting ill during your long awaited vacation to the Caribbean, tourists should prevent any undesirable medical problem by checking out the Dominican Republic health precautions that must be taken before visiting this country. When coming to the beautiful Dominican Republic, health issues are the last thing you would want to experience. Find out how to prevent the most common medical problems that might arise.

Make sure nothing interrupts or spoils your perfect vacation to the Caribbean. Follow these guidelines on the necessary Dominican Republic health precautions for a safe, pleasant and relaxing vacation.


 

Health Precautions in the DR

Dengue Fever

denque fever

One of the most important Dominican Republic health precautions for tourists involves staying away from insects, because they might transmit various diseases, from less serious ones to vacation-ruining types.

Mosquitos are possible carriers of dengue fever, which is usually harmless, but might get quite severe, in some cases. The symptoms of dengue fever are headache and rashes. To reduce the possibility of getting infected, you should wear long pants and long sleeve shirts, and always have with you some powerful insect repellents. These simple precautions will also keep the malarial mosquito away.


 

Traveler's diarrhea

imodium

Another health problem some tourists might suffer from is diarrhea. Many times, diarrhea is caused by a change in food preparation and ingredients or temperature changes. It can also have bacterial causes, or be the result of a virus infection or the consumption of food or water contaminated by parasites.

The symptoms of diarrhea are abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea, fever and loose stool. Dehydration is another associated problem, and a mineral supplement might be required to restore the organism's balance. The problems might get more severe in the case of small children or the elderly, so proper care is necessary. If the symptoms continue for more than 12 hours, you should visit a doctor. Depending on the underlying cause, you might receive an antibiotic, hydrating IVs or electrolytes.

Remember that this health problem might not be caused by viruses or bacteria, so do not try to self-diagnose or take medicine without a doctor's prescription, especially antibiotics.

Precautions for preventing traveler's diarrhea:

  • Avoid drinking water directly from the tap and do not use it to brush your teeth. Make sure not to accidently drink water when you take a shower or bathe. Use sealed bottles of water or the water provided by the hotel.
  • Wash your hands frequently, after going to the restroom, before eating, after handling money, and after swimming in the pool or ocean.
  • Eat freshly prepared foods (meat, fish, seafood, rice) and ensure they are served either very hot or very cold.
  • Thoroughly wash vegetables and fruits before eating.

In case you get diarrhea, eat properly and hydrate yourself so that the body is cleansed. If you are travelling, you could use Imodium, but make sure to talk to a doctor before taking this medicine.



 

Malaria

mosquito

When it comes to health and safety, you will hear many people say that there is a high chance of contracting malaria while visiting this country, so precautions are vital. This is not true. Only when you travel to the border region with Haiti there is a slight change of malaria. The main tourist areas are 100% malaria free.

Malaria is a very serious infectious disease transmitted by mosquitos. The risk of contracting malaria is higher at the border with Haiti, but after heavy rains, visitors might contract this disease on other parts of the island, as well.

The malarial mosquito is most active at night, from sunset to sunrise, so make sure you protect yourself during this period. Use DEET insect repellants and apply them to your skin and clothes, and try to cover your skin as much as possible when you go out at night. DEET repellants can be ordered online or bought in stores. If you do not have unpleasant reactions to them, go for high concentration products. Using efficient insect repellants is one of the most important health precautions you should take. There are certain medications you can take to prevent malaria. The newest and most efficient one is Malarone. This medicine does a good job preventing and treating malaria.


 

Sunburn

sun lotion

When talking about health precautions, the risk of sunburn is one of the most underestimated one. That is why so many tourists end up visiting a doctor with severe sunburn symptoms, like exhaustion, fever, blisters or shivering. Use sunscreen, protect your head with a hat and limit sunbathing hours.


 

Information on vaccinations

vaccination

Some doctors might recommend vaccinations for illnesses that you might acquire when travelling. There are no specific vaccinations for the Dominican Republic. Some recommended vaccinations include those against Hepatitis A and B, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Pertussis, Measles/Rubella and Typhoid. However, the chances of contracting any of these diseases during your vacation are quite small. For a safe and relaxing trip, make sure you gather all the necessary information before leaving to this exotic destination.

There are no vaccines against Malaria or Dengue fever, so the best thing would be to protect yourself by wearing long pants and long sleeves and use insect repellents. The most effective ones are DEET repellents, with concentrations between 30% and 50%, or picaridin repellents, with concentrations between 7% and 15%. You can also use natural insect repellents like tea tree oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, or cinnamon oil. These substances are safe and smell nice, so many tourists prefer them to chemical substances.


 

Going to the doctor

first aid

In every resort, there is a doctor and a clinic where you can go to seek medical advice. In case you need x-rays or blood tests, you will be escorted to the nearest hospital. All doctors have a basic level of English, and their skill is comparable to that of doctors in any other country. If you have to go to a hospital, it is better to choose private clinics, because of their speed, quality service and modern facilities. If you suffer from a chronical medical condition, it is advisable to speak to the doctor of the resort as soon as you arrive, so that he/she will know of the situation and be ready to offer medical care in case anything happens.


 

The importance of medical insurance

medical insurance

Medical services are very expensive, and unexpected accidents, like a broken bone, might cost thousands of dollars. That is why having travel medical insurance is one of the most crucial Dominican Republic health precautions one must take. You can buy insurance from your bank, tour operator or independent operators. Before or after seeing a doctor, you must contact your insurer. They will fax your doctor the forms that need to be filled in, after which the insurance company will pay for the services. Other companies ask you to fill a form and submit the receipts of the expenses you have incurred during your vacation after you come back home.

If, during your stay in the Dominican Republic, you exhibit symptoms of diarrhea, fever, skin irritations or inflammations, rashes, dizziness and nausea, vomiting, or difficulty breathing, you should see the hotel or resort doctor immediately.


 

Pharmacy and medicines

travel tablets

Usually, the shops near your hotel also sell different pharmaceutical products, at very high prices. You can find pain relievers, wound disinfectants, fever relievers, anti-diarrhea medicine, constipation and upset stomach relief medicine, insect repellents, condoms, sunscreen, sterile dressings, and anti-itch lotions. Because of the high prices, it is advisable to bring such products with you when you come to the Dominican Republic.

If you are taking prescription medication, make sure you bring with you the list of prescriptions, the name of the drugs, their purpose and your name clearly visible on the prescriptions. In case you get sick and the Dominican doctor needs to prescribe new medicine, he/she has to know what medicines you are taking, in order to prevent harmful interactions. You must bring the drugs in their original containers, and the labels must be clearly visible, because, at the border, you will have to prove that the medication you carry with you is for personal use. The Dominican Republic authorities are very strict when it comes to carrying drugs and medication over border.


 

Safety Precautions in the DR

Safety issues regarding car rental

car rental companies

People who do not know the Dominican roads and traffic regulations well are not recommended to rent a car in the Dominican Republic. However, if you do rent one, always make sure to lock the doors when you leave the car and never leave any valuables inside. Also, you should avoid driving at night, because the roads are not very good, and neither are the local drivers. Pay attention to drivers, who do not use their car lights or who drive under the influence of alcohol.


 

Dominican Republic crime

crime

In the Dominican Republic, 40% of the population lives in poverty. Don't take your valuables with you when you go out, and make sure they are not left visible. When you leave the hotel, you can lock your money, passport and jewelry in the hotel safes. Don't forget to lock the door of your hotel room properly every time you leave, and make sure the patio or balcony doors and windows are closed as well. When you go shopping, don't take large amounts of money with you, and don't use big bills when paying for an object at a street shop. It is not uncommon that thieves on motorcycles grab the chain, telephone or purse of an unsuspecting tourist.


 

Safety issues concerning drug use

no drugs

Drug possession and use is prosecuted with very high fines and heavy penalties (from 5 to 25 years in prison). Temporary release cannot be received by paying bail. Many times, visitors are implicated through association, so it is wise to avoid contact with people who are engaged in drug trade or drug consumption.


 

Safety issues regarding hurricanes

hurricane

The chances of a direct hurricane hit are very small in the Dominican Republic. Passing storms might affect the sunny Dominican Republic weather, causing heavy rainfall for one or two days, powerful winds and high ocean waves. Flooding might also occur.

In case of danger, follow the instructions of the hotel management. They will ensure you will be evacuated safely to another area or out of the country. However, this will only happen in crisis situations, so you should know it is for your own good.

Remember that hurricane chances are very low in the area, so you do not have much to worry about. If you want to find out more on the Dominican Republic weather or the storms and hurricanes in the area, visit the National Hurricane Center website.


 

The representatives of safety in the Dominican Republic - the guards and the police

dominican police

Guards monitor hotels, shops and other public places 24 hours a day. Tourists might be surprised to see that some guards and policemen carry weapons. However, incidents are very rare in the Dominican Republic, and this shows that the efficiency of the guards' work is high, and the display of weapons might play a role in this. Soldiers and police can also be encountered throughout the country. The POLITUR offices you see in tourist areas protect the safety of tourists.

In case you have to deal with the police, try to be polite and calm. Follow the instructions you receive and do not try to undermine the authority of the policeman.

Make sure you are familiar with the Dominican Republic safety issues before visiting the country, and take all necessary precautions for an unbelievable, flawless vacation to the Caribbean.


 


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