Although there are no required vaccinations to visit Nicaragua, people often ask us what they need to do to prepare medically to volunteer with Outreach360. There are two general approaches that people, including travel physicians, often use:
- “Protect me against anything that might affect me.” This is the most conservative approach, and involves the most vaccinations and medicines. This is usually the approach taken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- “I don’t want to take any powerful medicines unless I absolutely have to.” This approach involves more of a focus on actively preventing the disease during your time in Nicaragua.
The issues encountered in Nicaragua are similar and include:
We strongly recommend that your tetanus booster is up to date in volunteering in both countries.
Malaria exists in Nicaragua where we work. Per the CDC, ways to prevent malaria include the following:
- Taking a prescription antimalarial drug.
- Using insect repellent and wearing long pants and sleeves to prevent mosquito bites.
- Sleeping in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms or using bed nets.
We estimate that 50% of the volunteers who join Outreach360 take malaria medication. As far as we know, no Outreach360 volunteers have contracted malaria during their time with us. We encourage people to use mosquito repellent, especially in the early morning and evening hours. We do provide window screens, mosquito nets, or both.
If you decide to take an antimalarial drug for your trip to Nicaragua, Atovaquone/ proguanil, chloroquine, doxycycline, or mefloquine are equal options for preventing malaria.
On January 28, 2016, Nicaragua announced it’s first three cases of Zika. The CDC is recommending that women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant should not travel. Zika Virus in Pregnancy. Other people may travel, but should follow mosquito bite prevention practices. Nicaragua CDC Zika Info.
The Nicaraguan government’s public health program is very proactive, focusing on education and door to door fumigation throughout the country. Outreach360 complements these efforts through local fumigation of our living areas, and by providing screens for all sleeping area windows and mosquito nets for each bed.
In Nicaragua, as of March 11 there were 108 confirmed cases of the Zika virus. (To understand the scale of this: there are over 20,000 cases in Colombia, over 1.5 million cases in Brazil, and about 53 cases in the U.S.) Compared to other Central American countries, Nicaragua has a very strong public health system and has had relatively strong success in containing infectious diseases of this type. As of Feb 8th no cases have been reported in the department of Jinotega.
Unless you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, Outreach360 encourage you to join us in Nicaragua. We will work with you to minimize the exposure you will receive to mosquitos in the area.
Hepatitis A can be contracted from contaminated food and water. Because we use all bottled water in food preparation, dishes are washed in chlorinated water, and our own cooks are preparing the meals, we feel the risk for Hepatitis A is relatively small. That said, Hepatitis A can be contracted anywhere, and getting the vaccination is probably a wise idea not just for this trip but for the long term benefits of having the vaccination.
Typhoid is most often acquired through the consumption of contaminated food or water. Because the meals you are eating have been prepared in Outreach360 kitchens using bottled water, we believe the risk is minimal. We do not know of any case of a volunteer contracting typhoid during their time with us. Per the CDC website:
- CDC recommends typhoid vaccine for travelers to areas where there is a recognized increased risk of exposure to S. Typhi.
- The typhoid vaccines currently available do not offer protection against S. Paratyphi infection.
- Travelers should be reminded that typhoid immunization is not 100% effective, and typhoid fever could still occur.
- Two typhoid vaccines are currently available in the United States.
- Oral live, attenuated vaccine (Vivotif vaccine, manufactured from the Ty21a strain of S.Typhi by Crucell/Berna) (Updated July 27, 2009)
- Vi capsular polysaccharide vaccine (ViCPS) (Typhim Vi, manufactured by sanofi pasteur) for intramuscular use
- Both vaccines protect 50%–80% of recipients.
Please review the CDC country specific sites for full and complete information regarding prevention: