The city's water supply is absolutely safe. However, if you're susceptible to changes we suggest you drink bottled water for the first few days, which you can buy in supermarkets, kiosks, or liquor stores.
It is not advisable to eat uncooked vegetables that grow close to the soil (for example: lettuce, carrots, strawberries, etc.), unless you get them from an established supermarket chain (like Jumbo, Unimarc or Almac) that monitors the source of their products. Any of these supermarkets have a large stock of packed vegetables guaranteed to have been irrigated with water from a well. Established restaurants will also guarantee this.
No vaccinations are required to enter Chile.
The Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a serious and lethal respiratory disease originally discovered in Manchuria before WWII. It was later identified during the Korean Civil War (1951) and itâ€™s now present in Asia, especially in China where it poses a nationwide health problem. Cases have been reported in Japan and Eastern Europe as well. In the last few years, similar or identical agents have been found in rats and mice in the Western United States. There was an epidemic in Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile, in 1993.
Presumably, this disease has been present in Chile for several centuries, but modern methods of diagnosis have only now allowed precise identification.
The disease has not reached epidemic status in Chile, and does not represent a significant risk to tourism in the affected zones. The virus has a short life outside the carrier (mostly long tailed mice), which means that in open, well ventilated areas or those exposed to sunlight, it will not survive.
Recommended preventive measures for campers or visitors to rural areas are:
- Before staying in an abandoned or inhabited cabin or refuge, open and ventilate the place for at least 1 hour. Check for the presence of rodents and do not stay inside if traces are found.
- If you are sleeping outside, check the site for mice droppings or dens.
- Do not disturb the rodents in their dens or holes.
- Avoid sleeping close to woodpiles, rubbish or typical rodent habitats.
- Avoid sleeping on the floor without protection. Use a sleeping pad or similar.
- If you use a tent, keep it closed to prevent rodents from getting in.
- Keep your food in rodent proof containers. Bury or burn rubbish (where allowed) being careful not to cause a fire. Keep the camp area clean.
- Boil water if it is not apt for drinking or purify it with iodine or chlorine tablets.
Altitude illness or Puna.
When in high plains, in the northern regions of the country, and in some mountain passes, it might be possible you get altitude sickness. The lack of oxygen and atmospheric pressure may cause you headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and physical weakness. In five days the body should adapt to the oxygen shortage. However, if the discomfort continues or gets worse you must descend.
Also, it is best youÂ avoid smoking, alcohol, and extensive physical exercise. In the north, it is common to chew "coca" leaves or to drink coca tea, which helps the body alleviate symptoms of altitude illness.