Health Risks in Chile



Everyday health hazards to look out for in Chile include air pollution, hepatitis, and gastroenteritis.

For those prone to respiratory infection, smog can create respiratory problems, especially in winter. The government monitors the level of toxicity in the air and warns the public, especially the children, to refrain from going outdoors in major cities like Santiago. 

Hepatitis and gastroenteritis can be prevented by maintaining good personal hygiene. Tap water in the cities is safe for drinking, but drinking bottled water would be the better option. 

Having international health insurance in Chile can save you money. Tell your doctor you have "cobertura particular" or individual coverage, so you can reimburse your medical bills by presenting a receipt. Most of the doctors accept cash payments only. 

An advantage of having international health insurance in Chile is your access to medical evacuation (airlift) if the need arises. You can also purchase a medical insurance plan known as ISAPREs (Institución de Salud Previsional). You can choose a plan depending on your income. There are many private health insurance plans in Chile to choose from. 

There are diseases existing in Chile which may not affect the typical Chile traveler. However, if you are going to work closely with animals, beware of these diseases: Echinococcus, Fascioliasis in sheep raising areas, Anthrax from farm animals, and Brucellosis transmitted by infected cattle. 

If you are intending to camp outdoors in Central or Southern Chile, infected rodents may transmit a rare disease called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. Transmission is airborne, so prevent infection by avoiding areas (cottages, huts) in forested areas that are not well-ventilated.