Health Information for Travelers to MexicoTraveler View
Vaccines and Medicines
Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need.
|Find Out Why||Protect Yourself|
You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Some vaccines may also be required for travel.
Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
Get travel vaccines and medicines because there is a risk of these diseases in the country you are visiting.
CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Mexico, regardless of where you are eating or staying.
You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Mexico. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.
Ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the US.
You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so CDC recommends this vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures.
When traveling in Mexico, you should avoid mosquito bites to prevent malaria. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, depending on your travel plans, such as where you are going, when you are traveling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside. Talk to your doctor about how you can prevent malaria while traveling. For more information on malaria in Mexico, see malaria in Mexico.
Although rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in Mexico, it is not a major risk to most travelers. CDC recommends this vaccine only for these groups:
- Get vaccinated
- Take antimalarial meds
- Eat and drink safely
- Prevent bug bites
- Keep away from animals
- Reduce your exposure to germs
- Avoid sharing body fluids
- Avoid non-sterile medical or cosmetic equipment
Stay Healthy and Safe
Learn actions you can take to stay healthy and safe on your trip. Vaccines cannot protect you from many diseases in Mexico, so your behaviors are important.
Unclean food and water can cause travelers' diarrhea and other diseases. Reduce your risk by sticking to safe food and water habits.
- Food that is cooked and served hot
- Hard-cooked eggs
- Fruits and vegetables you have washed in clean water or peeled yourself
- Pasteurized dairy products
- Food served at room temperature
- Food from street vendors
- Raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs
- Raw or undercooked (rare) meat or fish
- Unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
- Unpasteurized dairy products
- ”Bushmeat” (monkeys, bats, or other wild game)
- Bottled water that is sealed
- Water that has been disinfected
- Ice made with bottled or disinfected water
- Carbonated drinks
- Hot coffee or tea
- Pasteurized milk
- Tap or well water
- Ice made with tap or well water
- Drinks made with tap or well water (such as reconstituted juice)
- Unpasteurized milk
Talk with your doctor about taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs with you on your trip in case you get sick.
Eating raw dairy products and vegetables in Mexico can put you at risk for serious infections.Hide
Bugs (like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) can spread a number of diseases in Mexico. Many of these diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine or medicine. You can reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites.
What can I do to prevent bug bites?
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Use an appropriate insect repellent (see below).
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
- Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms.
- Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
What type of insect repellent should I use?
- FOR PROTECTION AGAINST TICKS AND MOSQUITOES: Use a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET for protection that lasts up to several hours.
- FOR PROTECTION AGAINST MOSQUITOES ONLY: Products with one of the following active ingredients can also help prevent mosquito bites. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection.
- Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD
- Always use insect repellent as directed.
What should I do if I am bitten by bugs?
- Avoid scratching bug bites, and apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce the itching.
- Check your entire body for ticks after outdoor activity. Be sure to remove ticks properly.
What can I do to avoid bed bugs?
For more detailed information on avoiding bug bites, see Avoid Bug Bites.
Some diseases in Mexico—such as dengue, leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease—are spread by bugs and cannot be prevented with a vaccine. Follow the insect avoidance measures described above to prevent these and other illnesses.Hide
If your travel plans in Mexico include outdoor activities, take these steps to stay safe and healthy during your trip.
- Stay alert to changing weather conditions and adjust your plans if conditions become unsafe.
- Prepare for activities by wearing the right clothes and packing protective items, such as bug spray, sunscreen, and a basic first aid kit.
- Consider learning basic first aid and CPR before travel. Bring a travel health kit with items appropriate for your activities.
- Heat-related illness, such as heat stroke, can be deadly. Eat and drink regularly, wear loose and lightweight clothing, and limit physical activity during high temperatures.
- If you are outside for many hours in heat, eat salty snacks and drink water to stay hydrated and replace salt lost through sweating.
- Protect yourself from UV radiation: use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, wear protective clothing, and seek shade during the hottest time of day (10 a.m.–4 p.m.).
- Be especially careful during summer months and at high elevation. Because sunlight reflects off snow, sand, and water, sun exposure may be increased during activities like skiing, swimming, and sailing.
- Very cold temperatures can be dangerous. Dress in layers and cover heads, hands, and feet properly if you are visiting a cold location.
Stay safe around water
- Swim only in designated swimming areas. Obey lifeguards and warning flags on beaches.
- Practice safe boating—follow all boating safety laws, do not drink alcohol if driving a boat, and always wear a life jacket.
- Do not dive into shallow water.
- Do not swim in freshwater in developing areas or where sanitation is poor.
- Avoid swallowing water when swimming. Untreated water can carry germs that make you sick.
- To prevent infections, wear shoes on beaches where there may be animal waste.
Leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can be spread in fresh water, is found in Mexico. Avoid swimming in fresh, unchlorinated water, such as lakes, ponds, or rivers.Hide
Most animals avoid people, but they may attack if they feel threatened, are protecting their young or territory, or if they are injured or ill. Animal bites and scratches can lead to serious diseases such as rabies.
Follow these tips to protect yourself:
- Do not touch or feed any animals you do not know.
- Do not allow animals to lick open wounds, and do not get animal saliva in your eyes or mouth.
- Avoid rodents and their urine and feces.
- Traveling pets should be supervised closely and not allowed to come in contact with local animals.
- If you wake in a room with a bat, seek medical care immediately. Bat bites may be hard to see.
All animals can pose a threat, but be extra careful around dogs, bats, monkeys, sea animals such as jellyfish, and snakes. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, immediately:
- Wash the wound with soap and clean water.
- Go to a doctor right away.
- Tell your doctor about your injury when you get back to the United States.
Consider buying medical evacuation insurance. Rabies is a deadly disease that must be treated quickly, and treatment may not be available in some countries.Hide
Follow these tips to avoid getting sick or spreading illness to others while traveling:
- Wash your hands often, especially before eating.
- If soap and water aren’t available, clean hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Try to avoid contact with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, stay home or in your hotel room, unless you need medical care.
Diseases such as HIV infection can be spread through body fluids, such as saliva, blood, vomit, and semen.
- Use latex condoms correctly.
- Do not inject drugs.
- Limit alcohol consumption. People take more risks when intoxicated.
- Do not share needles or any devices that can break the skin. That includes needles for tattoos, piercings, and acupuncture.
- If you receive medical or dental care, make sure the equipment is disinfected or sanitized.
Plan for how you will get health care during your trip, should the need arise:
- Carry a list of local doctors and hospitals at your destination.
- Review your health insurance plan to determine what medical services it would cover during your trip. Consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance.
- Carry a card that identifies, in the local language, your blood type, chronic conditions or serious allergies, and the generic names of any medications you take.
- Some prescription drugs may be illegal in other countries. Call Mexico’s embassy to verify that all of your prescription(s) are legal to bring with you.
- Bring all the medicines (including over-the-counter medicines) you think you might need during your trip, including extra in case of travel delays. Ask your doctor to help you get prescriptions filled early if you need to.
Many foreign hospitals and clinics are accredited by the Joint Commission International. A list of accredited facilities is available at their website (www.jointcommissioninternational.org).
In some countries, medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) may be substandard or counterfeit. Bring the medicines you will need from the United States to avoid having to buy them at your destination.
Malaria is a risk in some parts of Mexico. If you are going to a risk area, fill your malaria prescription before you leave, and take enough with you for the entire length of your trip. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the pills; some need to be started before you leave.Hide
Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries.
In many places cars, buses, large trucks, rickshaws, bikes, people on foot, and even animals share the same lanes of traffic, increasing the risk for crashes.
Be smart when you are traveling on foot.
- Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks.
- Pay attention to the traffic around you, especially in crowded areas.
- Remember, people on foot do not always have the right of way in other countries.
Choose a safe vehicle.
- Choose official taxis or public transportation, such as trains and buses.
- Ride only in cars that have seatbelts.
- Avoid overcrowded, overloaded, top-heavy buses and minivans.
- Avoid riding on motorcycles or motorbikes, especially motorbike taxis. (Many crashes are caused by inexperienced motorbike drivers.)
- Choose newer vehicles—they may have more safety features, such as airbags, and be more reliable.
- Choose larger vehicles, which may provide more protection in crashes.
Think about the driver.
- Do not drive after drinking alcohol or ride with someone who has been drinking.
- Consider hiring a licensed, trained driver familiar with the area.
- Arrange payment before departing.
Follow basic safety tips.
- Wear a seatbelt at all times.
- Sit in the back seat of cars and taxis.
- When on motorbikes or bicycles, always wear a helmet. (Bring a helmet from home, if needed.)
- Avoid driving at night; street lighting in certain parts of Mexico may be poor.
- Do not use a cell phone or text while driving (illegal in many countries).
- Travel during daylight hours only, especially in rural areas.
- If you choose to drive a vehicle in Mexico, learn the local traffic laws and have the proper paperwork.
- Get any driving permits and insurance you may need. Get an International Driving Permit (IDP). Carry the IDP and a US-issued driver's license at all times.
- Check with your auto insurance policy's international coverage, and get more coverage if needed. Make sure you have liability insurance.
- Avoid using local, unscheduled aircraft.
- If possible, fly on larger planes (more than 30 seats); larger airplanes are more likely to have regular safety inspections.
- Try to schedule flights during daylight hours and in good weather.
Medical Evacuation Insurance
If you are seriously injured, emergency care may not be available or may not meet US standards. Trauma care centers are uncommon outside urban areas. Having medical evacuation insurance can be helpful for these reasons.
Road Safety Overseas (Information from the US Department of State): Includes tips on driving in other countries, International Driving Permits, auto insurance, and other resources.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions for Mexico.Hide
Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home, and always stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
Before you leave
- Research your destination(s), including local laws, customs, and culture.
- Monitor travel warnings and alerts and read travel tips from the US Department of State.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- Leave a copy of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home.
- Pack as light as possible, and leave at home any item you could not replace.
While at your destination(s)
- Carry contact information for the nearest US embassy or consulate.
- Carry a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp; leave the actual passport securely in your hotel.
- Follow all local laws and social customs.
- Do not wear expensive clothing or jewelry.
- Always keep hotel doors locked, and store valuables in secure areas.
- If possible, choose hotel rooms between the 2nd and 6th floors.
To call for emergency services while in Mexico, dial 066, 060, or 080. Write these numbers down to carry with you during your trip.
Learn as much as you can about Mexico before you travel there. A good place to start is the country-specific information on Mexico from the US Department of State.
Americans in Mexico have been arrested for purchasing souvenirs that were, or looked like, antiques and that local customs authorities believed were national treasures. Familiarize yourself with any local regulations for antiques and follow these tips:
- When you are considering purchasing an authentic antique or a reproduction, ask if you are allowed to export these items before you purchase them.
- If you buy a reproduction, document on the customs form that it is a reproduction.
- If you buy an authentic antique, obtain the necessary export permit (often from the national museum).
Healthy Travel Packing List
Pack items for your health and safety.
- Remember to pack extras of important health supplies in case of travel delays. This is especially important for items that may be difficult to get at your destination, like prescription medicines.
- You may not be able to purchase and pack all of these items, and some may not be relevant to you and your travel plans. Some items, like your prescriptions, sunscreen, and insect repellent, should go with you on almost every trip. Talk to your doctor about which items are most important for you.
- This list is general and may not include all the items you need. Some travelers may need additional health items, such as travelers who are pregnant, immune compromised, or traveling for a specific purpose like humanitarian aid work. Check our Traveler Information Center for more information if you are a traveler with specific health needs.
Medicines and Medical Supplies
Prescription medicines you take for existing conditions
Medicines you take regularly and copies of your prescriptions
Medical supplies you use for existing conditions
- Eyeglasses and contacts with copies of your prescription for glasses/contacts.
Consider packing spare glasses and contacts in case yours are damaged.
- Needles or syringes, such as for diabetes. (Requires a letter from your doctor on letterhead stationery.)
- Insulin supplies
- Epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens)
- Medical alert bracelet
- Eyeglasses and contacts with copies of your prescription for glasses/contacts.
Special prescriptions for the trip
Ask your doctor about taking special medicines or supplies:
- Antibiotic for travelers' diarrhea
- Commercial suture/syringe kit to be used by local health care provider (requires letter from your doctor on letterhead stationery)
- Medicine to prevent altitude sickness
- Medicines to prevent malaria, if appropriate
- Diarrhea medicine (for example, loperamide [Imodium] or bismuth subsalicylate [Pepto-Bismol])
- Motion sickness medicine
- Cough drops
- Cough suppressant/expectorant
- Medicine for pain and fever (such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen)
- Mild laxative
- Mild sedative or other sleep aid
- Saline nose spray
Supplies to prevent illness or injury
Hand sanitizer or wipes
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol or antibacterial hand wipes
Water purification tablets
See CDC recommendations: Water Disinfection.
Select an insect repellent based on CDC recommendations: Avoid Bug Bites
Permethrine is insect repellent for clothing. It may be needed if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Clothing can also be treated at home in advance.
For protection against insect bites while sleeping
(SPF 15 or greater) with UVA and UVB protection. See Sun Exposure.
Sunglasses and wide brim hat
Wear for additional sun protection
Examples: child safety seats, bicycle helmets
First aid creams or gels
- 1% hydrocortisone cream
- Antifungal and antibacterial ointments or creams
- Antiseptic wound cleanser
- Aloe gel for sunburns
- Insect bite treatment (anti-itch gel or cream)
Bandages and blister care
- Bandages (multiple sizes), gauze, and adhesive tape
- Moleskin or molefoam for blisters
Elastic bandage wrap
Elastic/compression bandage wrap for sprains and strains
- Disposable gloves
- Digital thermometer
- Scissors and safety pins
- Cotton swabs (Q-Tips)
Oral rehydration salts
Health insurance documents
Health insurance card (your regular plan and/or supplemental travel health insurance plan) and copies of claim forms
Copies of all prescriptions
Make sure prescriptions include generic names. (Bring prescriptions for medicines, eye glasses/contacts, and other medical supplies).
Carry a contact card containing the street addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of the following:
- Family member or close contact remaining in the United States
- Health care provider(s) at home
- Lodging at your destination
- Area hospitals or clinics, including emergency services
- U.S. embassy or consulate in the destination country or countries
Travel Health Notices
Be aware of current health issues in Mexico. Learn how to protect yourself.
Watch Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions
- Cholera in Mexico Updated October 30, 2013 According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), there have been 46 confirmed cholera cases, including one death, reported in Mexico since August 2013. Two of the cases occurred in the Federal District (Mexico City) and 44 cases occurred in the nearby state of Hidalgo. Mexican health authorities continue to work to control the outbreak. Read More >>
After Your Trip
If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see Find a Clinic. Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. Also tell your doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling.
If your doctor prescribed antimalarial medicine for your trip, keep taking the rest of your pills after you return home. If you stop taking your medicine too soon, you could still get sick.
Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. If you become ill with a fever either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to 1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the doctor about your travel history.
For more information on what to do if you are sick after your trip, see Getting Sick after Travel.
Map Disclaimer - The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on maps do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Approximate border lines for which there may not yet be full agreement are generally marked.