St. Barthélemy Health and Safety
Mosquitoes are always found in the tropics and, during rainy periods, they tend to be the most bothersome. In addition to their standard itching bites, mosquitoes may transmit nasty diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and malaria. The most reliable defense is a liberal application of personal repellent, particularly at dawn and dusk. Other defenses include locally available plug-in and burning coil devices that help to repel mosquitoes both indoors and out.
Outside of the rarely seen fer-de-lance snake on Martinique, there is not much in the way of really dangerous land critters in the French West Indies. The Manchineel tree (le Manceniller) puts out a highly toxic sap. You should never stand under one in the rain or taste its little green berries. These trees are usually marked with red paint by the locals.
In shallow coastal water, watch out for sea urchins, sharp coral and jellyfish. Always wear fins (palmes) when snorkeling and ask the locals about swimming and diving conditions before you go in the water.
Swimming in fresh waters in the tropics may lead to exposure to certain parasitic diseases. Check with locals regarding the safety of ponds and rivers in the Caribbean.
EATING AND DRINKING
Some large reef fish may contain toxins that can cause serious symptoms if ingested. Check with locals before eating fish that you have caught yourself. The tap water is drinkable in most places and excellent local bottled water is available in stores and restaurants.
Medical care is modern and available. There is a small hospital / clinic in Gustavia. The island offers ambulance services and more than half a dozen doctors.
AIDS is a factor throughout the world. Remember to practice safe sex.
For tropical storm information: wunderground.com
For US State Dept. travel advisories and information: travel.state.gov
For Caribbean travel health advisories: cdc.gov
Photo © 2002-2013 Gerald Hill / Used by Permission.
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