|Still current at: 25 April 2011
Updated: 13 April 2011
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Travel Summary, Safety and Security - Crime and General Money (increase in reports of credit cards being cloned) and Health (HIV/AIDS statistics). The overall level of the advice has not changed; there are no travel restrictions in place in Guatemala.
(see travel advice legal disclaimer)
Since October 2009 there has been a slow build up of bacteria and algae in Lake Atitlan, which has resulted in a colour change in the water in some areas from clear to green/brown. Local scientific and media studies have declared that the water in the lake and is no longer safe for bathing or drinking. Should you fall ill during a trip to the lake, or immediately after, you are advised to seek medical advice.
There is no in-country Swine Flu quarantine policy but screening equipment has been installed at airports to check incoming passengers only.
Hospitals in Guatemala are reluctant to give medical treatment unless they can be satisfied that you have medical insurance. It is therefore essential that you carry evidence of your insurance cover at all times. State-funded hospitals are on the whole under-staffed, under-funded, ill equipped, and are often unhygienic. You should use private clinics where possible.
Malaria occurs in low-lying areas outside Guatemala City.
Dengue fever occurs throughout the year. The Guatemalan Government has declared a State of Calamity in the Department of Guatemala (including Guatemala City, Villanueva, San Miguel Petapa, Mixco and San Jose Pinula) and Escuintla because of the increasing number of cases of Dengue fever. In 2009 there were outbreaks of Dengue fever in the Department of Izabal, especially in and around the towns of Puerto Barrios and Livingston. There were also confirmed cases of Classic Dengue and Dengue Hemorragico. You are advised to take additional health precautions against mosquitoes and be advised that the Authorities are publically spraying a mixture of insecticide and diesel to combat the outbreak. In 2007 there was a marked increase in the number of reported cases of dengue across the region, with an increase in the number of reported cases in the common border areas shared with El Salvador and Honduras.
In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 60,000 adults aged 15 or over in Guatemala were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 0.8% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. Exercise precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.
Seek medical advice before travelling to Guatemala and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention visit the websites of the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) or NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
See our Travel Health page.