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Country Guides for Caribbean

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico A combination of history and fun-in-the-sun best describes the U.S. island of Puerto Rico. The Spanish colonial period is beautifully represented in Old San Juan, where hundreds of 16th and 17th century buildings have been restored, as well as the ancient Spanish Fort of El Morro which has withstood attack since the 1500's. Vibrant, sophisticated San Juan is the largest city in the region. Alive with restaurants, bars, disco, salsa and shopping, its beach resorts are among the best in the world for every type of water sport. Spanish Caribbean folk culture is evident in the festivals and arts and crafts of the more isolated hill towns, and for a look at the natural flora and fauna, El Yunque National Forest and the Guanica Biosphere Reserve offer terrific hiking trails, lush vegetation, and colorful, exotic birds.

Language: Spanish, English

Major International Airports:

City

Airport
Airport
Code
Distance
From City
San JuanLuis Munoz Marin Int'lSJU7 miles E

The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in the Caribbean depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. You should observe the precautions listed in this document in most areas of this region.

Food and Waterborne Diseases

Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness in travelers. Travelers' diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout the Caribbean and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage ( hepatitis). Illness caused by a parasitic worm (Angiostrongylus cantonensis) can occur in this region. People can get infected by eating raw or undercooked snails or slugs that are infected with the parasite.

Diseases found in the Caribbean (risk can vary by country and region within a country; quality of in-country surveillance also varies)

There is no risk for malaria in: Anguilla (U.K.), Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda (U.K.), Cayman Islands (U.K.), Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique (France), Montserrat (U.K.), Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico (U.S.), St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos (U.K.), Virgin Islands (U.K., U.S.).

Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is present only in Trinidad & Tobago in this region. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain countries in the region if you have visited Trinidad & Tobago or an endemic area in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

Other Disease Risks
Dengue is transmitted by mosquitoes in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites (see below) will help to prevent this disease.

Cutaneous larval migrans is a risk for travelers with exposures on beaches and leptospirosis is present. Eosinophilic meningitis caused by Angiostongylus cantonensis occurred in travelers to Jamaica. Anthrax occurs in Haiti. Other infections that tend to occur more often in longer-term travelers (or immigrants from this region) include lymphatic filariasis (Dominican Republic and Haiti), cutaneous leishmaniais (Dominican Republic), tuberculosis (Haiti), HIV (Haiti), and hepatitis B (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). There remains very limited risk of schistosomiasis in few areas. Other hazards for travelers include toxic fish poisoning.

Other Health Risks

Injuries
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers. Protect yourself from motor vehicle injuries: avoid drinking and driving; wear your safety belt and place children in age-appropriate restraints in the back seat; follow the local customs and laws regarding pedestrian safety and vehicle speed; obey the rules of the road; and use helmets on bikes, motorcycles, and motor bikes. Avoid boarding an overloaded bus or mini-bus. Where possible, hire a local driver.

Routine Vaccinations

Check with your healthcare provider: you and your family may need routine as well as recommended vaccinations.

Before travel, be sure you and your children are up to date on all routine immunizations according to schedules approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). See the schedule for adults and the schedule for infants and children. Some schedules can be accelerated for travel.

See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect. If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. It might not be too late to get your shots or medications as well as other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

Recommended Vaccinations

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to The Caribbean. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

  • hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG).Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
  • hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11-12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
  • rabies, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.
  • typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region. typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors
  • Yellow Fever, for travelers to Trinidad and Tobago
  • As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles.

Required Vaccinations

  • None.
  • All travelers should take the following precautions, no matter the destination:

    • When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid children's eyes and mouth and use it sparingly around their ears.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.
    • In developing countries, drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.
    • Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.)
    • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.
    • Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito and insect bites.
    • Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).
    • Do not drink beverages with ice.
    • Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
    • Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.
    • Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas.
    • Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.

    After You Return Home

    If you have visited a malaria-risk area in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, continue taking your chloroquine for 4 weeks after leaving the risk area.

    Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the physician your travel history.



    Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    Those traveling to Puerto Rico are at risk from dengue fever transmitted by mosquito bites. Travelers should use topical insect repellent and wear insecticide-treated clothing.

    Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

    The municipal water supply in urban and resort areas of Puerto Rico is generally safe, but a moderate risk of parasitic contamination exists elsewhere. Travelers to rural areas are advised to treat water before drinking.

    Download Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by CountryDownload Magellan's Chart of Insect Protection and Water Purification Needs by Country

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    Puerto Rico enjoys a warm, humid climate with very little temperature variation from month to month. Unlike most Caribbean islands, there are no wet or dry seasons - rainfall is distributed throughout the year.

    148

    City
    Annual
    Precip. Days
    Annual
    Precip. Totals
    San Juan52"

    Puerto Rico's electrical current is 120/60 (volts/hz) and uses the plug adaptors listed to the right under Related Items.

    To determine which plug adaptors you'll need and if you'll require a transformer or converter, use our Electrical Connection Wizard.

    For a detailed discussion of international electrical standards, see our related article on Electrical and Phone Adaptation.

    Download Magellan's Guide to World Electrical ConnectionsDownload Magellan's Guide to World Electrical Connections

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    The time zone for Puerto Rico is -4 hours offset from GMT, which means that if it is 12:00 noon in New York, the time in Puerto Rico would be 1:00 pm

    The unit of currency in Puerto Rico is the US dollar (USD).

    Look up the current exchange rate using XE.com's Universal Currency Converter

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