Immunizations: For your peace of mind we suggest that you contact your personal physician and/or travel clinic as your ultimate medical resource. Currently no immunizations are needed for Costa Rica.
Mosquitoes: Understandably everyone worries about mosquitoes. Honestly I can say that I have had more mosquito bites sitting on the front porch of my brother’s home in Maryland than I have ever had sitting on the balcony of my home here in Costa Rica. Montezuma, located in the province of Puntarenas, is not in a malaria infested area and we do not consume anti-malarial pills. However we do have mosquitoes (most active at dusk). If you are prone to mosquito bites then protect yourself from these pesky insects with your repellent of choice (see Sunscreen/Insect Repellent section). The house is screened and the bedrooms have AC so you may sleep peacefully at night. Additional health information about traveling in Costa Rica and mosquito borne diseases can be found on-line from the CDC www.cdc.gov/ and/or the World Health Organization www.who.int/countries/cri/en/.
Other insects: Like elsewhere in the world we have bees–some pretty docile and others more aggressive. If you are allergic to bees bring your epinephrine injection, but then you already know this. There are other insects as well: ants, spiders, scorpions etc. However, as annoying as they can be, they aren’t life threatening. First rule of the jungle: If you leave your boots outside shake them out before sticking your feet in!
Snakes and Reptiles: Costa Rica has a prolific number of snakes as well as crazy looking frogs and toads. Some are harmless and some are poisonous. Stick to the open trails and don’t reach into areas you can’t see. Generally these critters are more frightened by you and will stay out of your way. Second rule of the jungle: Look but don’t touch! By the way this rule applies to foliage as well. It’s a jungle out there and some plants have developed all kinds of nasty toxins to ward off birds and insects.
Emergency Care: On the Lower Peninsula, the main center for health care services is in Cobano. In Cobano you will find a public clinic with 24 hour emergency services, private clinics, and a pharmacy. (All pharmacies in Costa Rica have resident doctors who can diagnose and dispense medication for minor ailments.) Hospital services are located in Puntarenas, which involves a 1 1/2 hour ferry ride across the gulf. If you carry an epi-pen or other necessary medication, don’t leave home without it.
We maintain a first aid kit at the house with bandage supplies, but if you are into serious hiking, surfing, or exploring by yourself you should have your own supplies. At the minimum some Band-Aids, bandage materials, and antibiotic cream, as well as a small flashlight and a whistle should go with you on every hike. You might wish to pack some saline eye drops to wash out sand or soothe dry eyes, especially if you wear contacts. We keep a supply of OTC drugs such as Tylenol, ibuprofen, Imodium, rubbing alcohol, hydrocortisone cream etc on hand. These items can also be purchased in Montezuma. Needle point tweezers are handy for removing splinters, glass, and/or tics.
Drinking Water: Costa Rica has the same high standards for municipal drinking water as found in the US. Our B&B is served by the municipal water system of Delicias. We drink our tap water, but we also sell bottled water at the house. With all the sun, heat, humidity and intense physical activities dehydration is a potential problem. So please drink up.
Food: We have eaten in restaurants and sodas (“Mom and Pop” type diners) all over the country and have never been sick. While there are a plethora of salsas and chilies to add to your plate, Costa Rican food is not hot or spicy. If you do experience symptoms of GI upset it may be due to a sudden change in diet rather than a bacterial pathogen. Rest assured the term “Montezuma’s Revenge” has nothing to do with either Montezuma or anywhere else in Costa Rica.
Health Insurance: Check with your current health insurance carrier to see if your coverage is extended to Costa Rica. Usually it is. While you may have to pay for medical service at the point of use, you will be reimbursed when you return home and submit the claim. The private clinic in Cobano accepts credit cards. Remember health care in Costa Rica costs only a fraction of what it does in the US.