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Health & Safety in Mexico - Travel Advice for visiting Mexico

Health and medicine

The vast majority of visitors to Mexico can expect to leave in as good, if not better, shape than they arrive in. The are no mandatory inoculation required and the most common aliments are sunburn or an upset stomach, colloquially known as Monctezuma's revenge.

However diseases are present that should be guarded against. Check that your polio, hepatitis and tetanus jabs are up-to-date and find out if it's time for your typhoid booster. Cholera is also present in Mexico, but as the inoculation is of dubious efficacy, it's often better to take care of care of what you eat and where you eat it. Malaria is present in the more remote areas and you should consult your doctor for advice on prophylactics.

Tap water is not safe to drink and should be bought bottled. Similarly ice and any fruit and vegetables that may have been washed in tap water should be avoided.

Although medicines are freely available over the counter in pharmacies it always pays to pack a basic medical kit. This should include: Iodine or water purifying tablets, high factor sunscreen, insect repellent(to guard against malaria and dengue fever - also mosquito borne), rehydration salts, antiseptic, analgesics, plasters and something for diarrhoea(such as Imodium or Lomotil).

Mexico has a number of other possible hazards, so if you get struck down don't hesitate in calling the doctor. For further country specific medical information contact Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad(MASTA) 0906 8224 100.

Safety

Despite the government's best efforts crime in Mexico is on the up, particularly in urban areas. Most crime still remains 'petty', involving robbery, bag snatching and pick pocketing, but there have been some serious assaults and women especially are advised not to travel alone.

To guard against this the best advice is to use your common sense and keep your wits about you. Minimise risk by locking your valuables in the hotel safe, keeping your camera hidden beneath clothing and carrying your money out of sight, in a money-belt. Also when withdrawing money from an ATM, don't use one on the street go into the bank to use it.

It will come as little comfort to know that Mexican police have a reputation for being cantankerous, obstructive and corrupt and, unless you can find the tourist police, it's advised that you contact the nearest embassy or consulate.

One hazard that can't be underestimated is crossing the road, remember traffic has the right of way.

Owing to the increasing rate of crime taking place in taxis, visitors to Mexico City and Guadalajara are advised to telephone for a radio cab( sito) or turismo taxi, rather than hailing a metered taxi on the street.

Since the uprising in Chiapas on New Year's Day 1994 travel in this area(and neighbouring Oaxaca) should be limited to the main tourist routes. For more information, and updates, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office(020 7238 4503 www.fco.gov.uk).



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