You are going to have a great time. Let’s make sure you are also safe and healthy while you are having fun.
The first thing to do is to meet with a travel health specialist.
You may need shots to stay healthy at in Brazil. Your travel specialist will make sure your routine vaccines are up to date. Vaccine preventable illness is everywhere, but the variety increases when people gather from all over the world. Tetanus, Pertussis, Influenza, and Measles are just a few on the list. Travel related vaccines to consider include Typhoid Fever and perhaps the most important one, Yellow Fever.
Your provider will also discuss malaria prevention, with risks varying greatly throughout the country. You may need preventive medications to be started before you leave home, especially if you are lucky enough to score tickets to the venue in Manaus. Insect precautions are discussed later in this article.
Food and water precautions and medication for treatment of traveler’s diarrhea are key. Food should be served piping hot. Eat only fresh fruits that you peeled yourself and vegetables which are cooked. Dairy should be pasteurized. Bottled water, carbonated beverages, hot coffee and tea should be fine, but avoid tap water and ice cubes made with tap water.
What about the time zone difference?
Strategically using natural daylight and sleep aids can help with jet lag. Do your best to stay rested, but most of all, check your tickets and watch your game times because there are three time zones in Brazil!
I mentioned Yellow Fever vaccination above. Here is the scoop:
Yellow Fever is caused by a virus transmitted by a mosquito. It is bad.
Some cases are actually asymptomatic, but some are quickly and completely fatal. Flulike symptoms begin 3-6 days after the bite and either resolve or progress toward abdominal pain, vomiting, hemorrhage, internal organ involvement, and possibly death.
It is called “Yellow Fever” because you literally turn yellow as the liver is damaged.
This is a big concern for travelers to certain parts of Brazil, especially World Cup visitors to the venue cities of Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Cuiabá, and Manaus. Visitors to other World Cup venue cities may be OK without the vaccine, but expanded itineraries, may change that. A travel health specialist can help you research this as well as special precautions around receiving the Yellow Fever shot.
How to Prevent Insect Bites and the diseases they carry:
Here is the good news: If you aren’t bitten by an infected mosquito in the first place you won’t catch Yellow Fever. Or any other awful disease transmitted by mosquitoes, such as Dengue, Chikungunya, and Malaria.
So prevent bites. Long sleeved shirts and long pants, clothes treated with Permethrin, and for exposed skin, insect repellant containing DEET or Picardin make a huge difference. Layer repellant lotions and sprays on top of sunscreen, not underneath.
Personal safety while in large crowds.
“I should be OK once I am at the stadium. There is safety in numbers, right? “ Not these numbers!
Three million people will gather from all over the world to celebrate soccer. The thrill of attending the World Cup is being part of a cheering crowd. Much of the risk to your health and safety is found right there in that crowd.
Crime can be petty or violent. Leave your valuables in the hotel safe, or better yet, at home. Do not wear obvious symbols of wealth: expensive watches and jewelry. Protect your wallet and money. Don’t even think about using your pockets.
Sadly, we have all seen reports in the media of occasional riots and stampedes at such gatherings. Large groups of people who have lost their personal space (i.e, crowds) are naturally more inclined toward hostility. Combine this dynamic with alcohol, a favorite team’s loss, or someone saying something stupid. Add a few authentic hoodlums, throw in some panic, and you have the recipe for a riotous stampeding mob. What can you do about that?
Be prepared. Stay really calm. Have a fully charged cell phone and a plan to reconnect with your group should you become separated. Wear shoes that make sense. Yes, sensible shoes! You will need good balance and comfort. You don’t want to be the one to trip and cause the pile up.
Arrive early and locate the First Aid station, exits, alternate exits, and shelter should the weather turn.
If you see a group of people gathering suddenly, resist the urge to move in for a good view. Move away. This could be a fight breaking out or a crime scene.
When the event ends, there will be a sudden exodus of people leaving the stadium. Most will be lovely. Some will be drunk. Some will be upset. Be careful here.
Moving crowds are like moving rivers, with the flow fastest in the center of the stream. Stay toward the sides where the flow is slower and keep an eye out for potential exits or shelters should the crowd turn bad. Never swim upstream. Never stop suddenly.
If you want out, stay calm. Continue to move with the crowd as you slowly move laterally.
Also, however you plan to celebrate your team’s victory, no stage diving, crowd surfing, moshing, or Wall of Death. If you don’t know what these are, ask a teenager.
Know the weather forecast and dress in appropriate layers. Some bring earplugs to use should the noise level become uncomfortable.
A few random tips:
Avoid natural bodies of fresh water in some areas of Brazil. There is a little larva, called Schistosomiasis, which can quietly and quickly pierce your skin and cause harm to your internal organs.
But if you choose to swim in salt water, check with the local authorities on the risks of certain potent jelly fish, currents, and other marine hazards.
Your best bet may be the chlorinated hotel pool!
And in case you are in serious trouble and need a medical evacuation home, your travel health insurance policy, wisely purchased before leaving home, will save the day.
Have a safe trip. Have a wonderful time! Come back healthy, but if you do get sick after returning home it is critical to tell your doctor about your itinerary. Treatable travel related health issues, especially malaria, can surface long after you have unpacked.
Are you headed to the games? Which team do you cheer for? What worries you the most about your trip? Share your thoughts in the comments below: