Mexico: How to Avoid Getting Sick in Mexico
One of the most enticing things about Mexico is the incredible food, and for the adventurous foodie there is plenty to sample, especially in the markets and on the streets of Mexico City. Unfortunately, fear of getting sick stops many travelers from truly experiencing all that Mexico has to offer. Luckily, with a little planning and some knowledge about how to make your way through the maze of tacos and tequilas, a trip to Mexico doesn't need to involve countless trips to the bathroom or the dreaded trip to the doctor.
Be Careful With Drinks
First things first: Always drink bottled water and never from the faucet, even when brushing teeth. When you order drinks on the street or in small, economical restaurants, always order them sin hielo (without ice). When ordering licuados (smoothies) on the street, ask if they're made with agua pura (purified water), just to be sure. The best bet is to avoid cheap, unhygienic-looking places and to always try to keep a close eye on the preparation of your drink. To be absolutely certain you won’t get sick from drinks, stick to bottled beverages. Of course, if you're ordering drinks at a resort, a higher end restaurant or a decent hotel, it’s likely you won’t have to worry about purified water not being used.
Be Smart About Food
Be careful when it comes to salads and fruit. It’s impossible to know whether fruits or vegetables have been washed with purified water. All side salads come with a wedge of lime. Use it, then ask for more and douse your raw vegetables in it. Not only is lime refreshing on a hot day, it helps kill bacteria. Try to stick to fruit that you can peel, such as mangoes and bananas. Prepared fruit can be very enticing, but you don't know how clean the preparer's hands were or how long it has been exposed to potential risks such as disease-carrying insects or airborne bacteria. To be certain, when eating street food, always stick to food that's cooked in front of you.
Don’t Get Carried Away With Alcohol
What’s a vacation in Mexico without margaritas? Drinking beachside cocktails is fun, but it's too easy to overdo it. Tropical hangovers are in a class of their own, and there's nothing worse than missing out on a day of vacation because of a self-induced headache. The most important thing to remember when indulging in Mexico is to stay hydrated. Sip on water throughout the day and alternate alcohol with water during happy hour. Adding a few pinches of salt and a bit of lime to a glass of water can work wonders for hydration.
When you're packing, it's a good idea to toss in a general antibiotic to take in the event of travelers diarrhea. Immodium is also helpful for long bus, boat or plane rides in case you experience stomach trouble. Other preventative measures include traveling with natural anti-bacterials such as grapefruit seed extract or oil of oregano. Taking either of these every day will help prevent bacterial assaults on your system.
Bring the Repellent
Although malaria is very rare, dengue fever is endemic throughout Mexico. Make sure you have mosquito repellent on hand to apply in the evenings.
Consider Updating Vaccines
All travelers should be up-to-date with their routine immunizations. Hepatitis A is endemic in Mexico, so travelers should be immunized with at least the first dose of hepatitis A vaccine before arriving. Also, street dogs are a huge problem throughout the country, but especially in smaller beach towns. It may be a good idea to get a rabies vaccine.