Travel Information Update

ViviendasLeón was established in Leon, Nicaragua in 2002. We work with rural populations to improve their standard of living through a variety of aid and education programs. We bring travel groups throughout the year to assist us in our development goals through our Global Education Travel program.

Students, travelers and volunteers are critical to the success of our work and we take their health and awareness of local health issues very seriously. As a result, we monitor health issues in Nicaragua and update our health recommendations on a regular basis.

Health recommendations for travelers

Water: Because of the hot weather found throughout the year in the León region, dehydration is the most common ailment that travelers experience. This is avoided by drinking significant amounts of water throughout your stay. Recommendations:

  • Do not drink tap water. Bottled water is provided in your home stay and in our transportation vehicles. Make sure to fill up your water bottle frequently and drink regularly throughout the day.
  • If you experience diarrhea it is normally caused by a change of diet. If it persists it can contribute to dehydration. It is important that if you have this condition to speak to our staff so that they can monitor the condition and provide the medical care needed.

Mosquito vector diseases: The tropics and subtropics are known for mosquito-borne diseases (dengue, malaria, chikungunya). The most recent example is the Zika virus. Zika virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of the Aedes mosquito, a predominantly day-biting mosquito, which is present throughout Latin America. Relatively little is known regarding this virus, including risk factors for illness, and other potential modes of transmission. Those who become symptomatic with Zika may experience fever, rash, joint pains, and other symptoms. One area that has emerged of particular concern is the connection with viral illness during pregnancy and microcephaly in newborns. Additional concerns are the potential connection with a neurologic syndrome known as Guillain-Barre, though this has yet to be fully characterized.

At this time there is a low incidence of the disease in Nicaragua, but numbers are growing with approximately 30 documented cases as of the 1st week of February. Viviendas Leon follows the recommendations of the CDC, which are (as of February 8th, 2016):

  • Pregnant women should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare professional first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Until we know more, if your male sexual partner has traveled to or lives in an area with active Zika virus transmission, you should abstain from sex or use condoms the right way every time you have vaginal, anal, and oral sex for the duration of the pregnancy.
  • Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare professional before traveling to these areas and strictly follow the CDC recommendations.

At this point (February 8th, 2016), the CDC has not issued specific precautions to other individuals traveling to affected countries. We will continue to monitor this disease and provide updates as they become available.

It has been our experience with all mosquito-borne diseases that León presents a relatively low risk for acquiring these diseases. Over the last 23 years that we have brought groups to León, we are unaware of anyone having been diagnosed with mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue or malaria. Within recent years the Nicaraguan government has become proactive in reducing mosquito populations through various measures including education, trash collection and fumigation. It should be noted, however, that the situation with Zika virus is evolving, cases are increasing nationally, and we are unable to predict what the situation and risks for this particular disease will be in the coming weeks and months.

There is no vaccine or medicine that is available to prevent Zika. To guard against all mosquito-borne diseases we recommend the following measures to be taken:

1. Follow all CDC recommendations for the purchase and application of insect repellants:

How often should repellent be reapplied?

CDC recommends the use of products containing active ingredients, which have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as repellents applied to skin and clothing

Of the products registered with the EPA, those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.

EPA registration means that EPA does not expect the product to cause adverse effects to human health or the environment when used according to the label.

How often should repellent be reapplied?

Repellents containing a higher percentage of the active ingredient typically provide longer-lasting protection. Regardless of what product you use, if you start to get mosquito bites, reapply the repellent according to the label instructions.

What precautions should I follow when using repellents?

Always follow the recommendations appearing on the product label. EPA recommends the following when using insect repellents:

Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label). Do not apply repellents under your clothing.

Never use repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.

Do not apply to eyes or mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. When using repellent sprays, do not spray directly on your face—spray on your hands first and then apply to your face.

Do not allow children to handle or spray the product. When using on children, apply to your own hands first and then put it on the child. Avoid applying repellent to children’s hands because children frequently put their hands in their eyes and mouths.

Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Heavy application does not give you better or longer lasting protection.

After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive days.

If you (or your child) get a rash or other reaction from a repellent, stop using the repellent, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water, and call a local poison control center for further guidance. If you go to a doctor, it might be helpful to take the repellent with you.

From wwwnc.cdc.gov website. Most recent update: March 31, 2015

2. Wear protective clothing including long, lightweight pants, socks and t-shirts.

Medications and vaccinations: At this time, we recommend the following vaccinations and medicines to be obtained 6 weeks before your trip. Check with your personal physician and the CDC for more information.

  • Hepatitis A vaccine: a two-part vaccine. The second part is given 6 months after the first
  • Update Polio and Tetanus vaccines if necessary.

Other optional medicines:

  • Cipro 500mg antibiotic: Recommended for illness or diarrhea.

Malaria medications: These are optional but are effective at reducing risk of malaria. They are sold under a number of names including Malarone. Please check with your physician regarding any Malaria medications, their use and side effects.

Pepto bismol tablets. Very useful to moderate the effects of a new diet taken daily.

Be sure to bring enough of your personal prescription medications. Make sure all medicines are in original containers and properly labeled.

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