Argentina is a modern country with good health and dental services. Sanitation and hygiene at restaurants is relatively high, and tap water is generally safe to drink throughout the country. If you want to make sure, ask ‘¿Se puede tomar el agua de la canilla?’ (Is the tap water drinkable?).
Public health care in Argentina is reasonably good and free, even if you’re a foreigner. Waits can be long, however, and quality inconsistent. Those who can afford it usually opt for the superior private-care system, and here most doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash. Many medical personnel speak English.
If you develop a life-threatening medical problem you may want to be evacuated to your home country. Since this may cost thousands of dollars, be sure to have the appropriate insurance before you depart. Your embassy can also recommend medical services.
A signed and dated note from your doctor, describing your medical conditions and medications (with their generic or scientific names) is a good idea. It’s also a good idea to bring medications in their clearly labeled, original containers. Most pharmacies in Argentina are well supplied.
For more specific information on vaccinations to get before traveling to Argentina, see wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/argentina.htm.
Dengue fever is a viral infection found throughout South America. It is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which prefer to bite during the daytime and breed primarily in artificial water containers, such as cans, cisterns, plastic containers and discarded tires. As a result, dengue is especially common in densely populated, urban environments.
In 2009, several thousand cases of dengue were reported in the northern provinces of Argentina, with Chaco and Catamarca being hit the worst. There were even a few dozen cases in Buenos Aires. Fortunately, relatively few deaths resulted. Dengue usually causes flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, joint pains, headaches, nausea and vomiting, often followed by a rash. The body aches may be quite uncomfortable, but most cases resolve uneventfully in a few days.
Malaria is transmitted by mosquito bites, usually between dusk and dawn. The main symptom is high spiking fevers, which may be accompanied by chills, sweats, headache, body aches, weakness, vomiting or diarrhea. Severe cases may involve the central nervous system and lead to seizures, confusion, coma and death.
Taking malaria pills is recommended for travel to rural areas along the borders with Bolivia (lowlands of Salta and Jujuy provinces) and Paraguay (lowlands of Misiones and Corrientes provinces).
Yellow fever is a life-threatening viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes in forested areas. The illness begins with flu-like symptoms, which may include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, backache, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually subside in a few days, but one person in six enters a second, toxic phase characterized by recurrent fever, vomiting, listlessness, jaundice, kidney failure and hemorrhage, leading to death in up to half of the cases. There is no treatment except for supportive care.
The yellow fever vaccine is recommended for all travelers greater than nine months of age who visit the northeastern forest areas near the border with Brazil and Paraguay.