Panama (Central America)Advice for All Destinations Immunisations Malaria Malaria Map Other Health Risks Notice Board News
Advice for All Destinations
The risks to health whilst travelling will vary between individuals and many issues need to be taken into account, e.g. activities abroad, length of stay and general health of the traveller. It is recommended that you consult with your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of travel. They will assess your particular health risks before recommending vaccines and /or antimalarial tablets. This is also a good opportunity to discuss important travel health issues including safe food and water, accidents, sun exposure and insect bites. Many of the problems experienced by travellers cannot be prevented by vaccinations and other preventive measures need to be taken.
All travellers going overseas with medication (including over the counter medications) should check if there are any restrictions on medications they intend to take prior to travel. Check with individual country Embassies via this link
Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. UK travellers visiting other European Union countries should also carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as it entitles travellers to reduced cost, sometimes free, medical treatment in most European countries. Online applications normally arrive within seven days. Applications may also be made by telephone on 0300 330 1350 or by post using the form which can be downloaded from the website
For Travel Safety Advice you should visit the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.
A worldwide list of clinics, run by members of the International Society of Travel Medicine is available on the ISTM website.
- Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain - including for example, seasonal flu vaccine (if indicated), MMR, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
- Courses or boosters usually advised: Hepatitis A; Tetanus.
- Other vaccines to consider: Diphtheria; Hepatitis B; Rabies; Typhoid; Yellow Fever.
- Selectively advised vaccines - only for those individuals at highest risk: none.
Yellow fever vaccination certificate required for travellers over 1 year of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and from countries with an active yellow fever outbreak.
Notes on the diseases mentioned above
- Diphtheria:  spread person to person through respiratory droplets. Risk is higher if mixing with locals in poor, overcrowded living conditions.
spread through consuming contaminated food and water or person to person through the faecal-oral route.
Risk is higher where personal hygiene and sanitation is poor.
Risk is highest for those with underlying medical conditions where there is increased risk of severe disease e.g. chronic liver/kidney disease; haemophiliacs; men who have sex with men; people who inject drugs.
spread through infected blood and blood products, contaminated needles and medical instruments and sexual intercourse.
Risk is higher for long stays, frequent travel and for children (exposed through cuts and scratches), those who may require medical treatment during travel.
Risk is highest for those with underlying medical conditions where there is increased risk of severe disease e.g. chronic liver/kidney disease; haemophiliacs; men who have sex with men; people who change partners frequently; people who inject drugs.
- Rabies:  spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite, scratch or lick on broken skin. Particularly dogs and related species, and also cats and bats. Risk is higher for those going to remote areas (who may not be able to promptly access appropriate treatment in the event of a bite), long stays, those at higher risk of contact with animals and bats, and children.All travellers should avoid contact with animals (both wild and domestic) particularly dogs and cats. Even when pre-exposure vaccine has been received, urgent medical advice should be sought after any animal or bat bite.
- Tetanus:  spread through contamination of cuts, burns and wounds with tetanus spores. Spores are found in soil worldwide. A total of 5 doses of tetanus vaccine are recommended for life in the UK. Boosters are usually recommended in a country or situation where the correct treatment of an injury may not be readily available.
- Typhoid:  spread mainly through consumption of contaminated food and drink. Risk is higher where access to adequate sanitation and safe water is limited.
- Yellow Fever:  spread by the bite of an infected, day-biting mosquito. The disease is mainly found in rural areas of affected countries but outbreaks in urban areas do occur. Vaccination is usually recommended for all those who travel into risk areas. View yellow fever risk areas here. In addition, certain countries may want to see proof of vaccination on an official yellow fever vaccination certificate - check above under Immunisations.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease transmitted by mosquitoes.You cannot be vaccinated against malaria.
Malaria precautionsMalaria Map
- Malaria risk is low throughout the year in all areas including the Canal Zone and Panama City. Risk is highest in Darien, Guna Yala, Panam and San Blas Provinces.
- Malaria precautions are essential. Avoid mosquito bites by covering up with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers especially after sunset, using insect repellents on exposed skin and, when necessary, sleeping under a mosquito net.
- See malaria map – additional information can be found by clicking on the Regional Information icon below the map.
- Low to no risk: antimalarial tablets are not normally advised.
- If you have been travelling in a malarious area and develop a fever seek medical attention promptly. Remember malaria can develop even up to one year after exposure.
Other Health Risks
Altitude and TravelThis country has either areas with high altitude (2400m or more) or/and areas with very high altitude (3658m or more). Travellers who may go into areas of high altitude should take care to avoid ill effects of being at altitude including Acute Mountain Sickness, a potentially life-threatening condition. For further information see Altitude and Travel.
Dengue FeverA viral illness that is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. Symptoms include fever, headache, severe joint, bone and muscular pain - hence its other name 'breakbone fever'. There is no vaccine and prevention is through avoidance of mosquito bites. For further information see Dengue Fever.
This country has been categorised as having a moderate risk of Zika (ZIKV) virus transmission.
ZIKV is mainly spread through mosquito bites. The mosquito responsible most commonly bites during daylight hours and is abundant in urban settings. There is a low risk of sexual transmission.
The illness itself is usually mild but there is a link between infection during pregnancy and babies being born with birth defects. There is no vaccine currently available against ZIKV.
Advice for All Travellers
All travellers should practice strict mosquito bite avoidance at all times.
Do not travel without adequate travel insurance.
Seek pre-travel health advice from your health care provider 6-8 weeks in advance of travel.
- Pregnant women are advised to consider postponing non-essential travel.
- Those planning pregnancy, or where there is a risk of pregnancy should avoid the risk of ZIKV in pregnancy and sexual transmission of ZIKV by the use of contraception and condoms during travel and for:
• 8 weeks afterwards if female
• 6 months afterwards if male
For further information, see Zika virus infection page.