Health and Diseases in Colombia

By | October 15, 2021

Vaccination protection

There is no compulsory yellow fever vaccination in Colombia. In 2005, however, there were 20 yellow fever cases and 13 people died. The WHO recommends vaccination for trips to the middle valley of the Magdalena River, the eastern and western foothills of the Cordillera Oriental from the border area with Ecuador to the border with Venezuela, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Urabá, the eastern lowlands (Orioquia) and the Amazon against yellow fever.

In addition, the Federal Foreign Office provides vaccination protection against tetanus, hepatitis A and diphtheria, and for longer stays (more than 4 weeks) and / or special exposure protection against hepatitis B, typhoid and rabies.

Furthermore, the standard vaccinations for children according to the recommendations from the Robert Koch Institute to be up to date.

Dengue fever

Up to 40,000 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Colombia in recent years. The diurnal mosquito Stegomyia aegypti transmits dengue fever. Serious damage to health, including death, occurs occasionally. There is no preventive vaccination against dengue, the only protection is the use of mosquito nets and mosquito repellants. The dengue risk exists especially along the Atlantic coast, in the Cauca and Magdalena river valleys, Putumayo and in the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental.


According to payhelpcenter, there are more than 100,000 cases of malaria in Colombia each year. Nocturnal Anopheles mosquito is responsible for the transmission of malaria. If malaria (especially tropical malaria, which is rare in Bolivia), remains untreated, it can be fatal in non-immune Europeans. Malaria can break out weeks and months after the actual mosquito bite. Therefore, even after returning from Bolivia, if you have a fever, you should consult a doctor who should be advised of your stay in the malaria area.

There is a high risk of malaria throughout the year in the lower-lying, rural regions of the provinces of Amazonia (southern Llanos region with the departments of Guainia, Amazonas, Putumayo, Guaviare and Vichada), Pacifico (coast, Choco department and in the border area with Panama) and the Caribbean (southern coast of Panama up to and including the Cordoba department, Urabá-Bajo Cauca).

There is a medium malaria risk with unstable transmission in lower-lying rural regions in northeastern Colombia (northern Llanos region).

There is little to no malaria risk on the islands of Providencia and Andrés as well as in Bogotá and the surrounding area, other cities and high areas.

Depending on the route, chemoprophylaxis (taking tablets) may be recommended. There are various prescription drugs on the market for malaria prophylaxis (for example Doxycycline, Malarone or Lariam). An experienced tropical or travel doctor can advise you on the choice of medication, their intolerance and side effects and personal adjustment.

In addition to malaria, mosquitoes transmit other infectious diseases, which is recommended as preventive protection when traveling in Colombia

  • wear light-colored clothing covering the whole body (long trousers and shirts). This both during the day (dengue fever) and in the evening (malaria).
  • Regularly apply insect repellent to all exposed parts of the body
  • to use a mosquito net in the regions mentioned above


The risk of a life-threatening infection with HIV / AIDS always arises from sexual contact and drug use (for example unclean cannulas or syringes or cannulas). The use of condoms is therefore always recommended, especially with casual acquaintances.

Diarrhea and cholera

Most diarrheal illnesses can be prevented with proper drinking water and food hygiene.

Some basic rules

Never drink tap water but, for example, bottled water. If bottled water is not available, filter and disinfect water or boil it off. Also use drinking water to brush your teeth or wash the dishes. Peel, boil or disinfect food. Make sure that no flies get to your food. Hands should be washed often with soap, always after a bowel movement, before preparing food and before eating. If appropriate, disinfect your hands as well, use disposable towels.

Medical supplies

Medical care in the larger cities of Colombia is comparable to European standards. In rural Colombia, medical care is often inadequate from a technical, technical and hygienic point of view. It is therefore strongly recommended that you have adequate health insurance and reliable travel repatriation insurance. A tropical or travel doctor can advise you on equipping your first-aid kit.

Medical treatment and hospital stays are sometimes considerably more expensive in Colombia than in Germany. German health insurances often do not pay these costs or only partially. It is therefore strongly recommended that you consult the responsible health insurance provider before taking out health insurance or starting your journey. For treatment costs in Colombia, the patient usually has to show up.

Before traveling to Colombia, you should seek advice from a tropical / travel doctor. In the German diplomatic missions in Colombia, lists of recommended German or English-speaking doctors can be obtained on request.

In addition to my general disclaimer, please note the following important note:

A guarantee for the correctness and completeness of the medical information and liability for any damage that may occur cannot be assumed. You stay responsible for your healthy.

Health and Diseases in Colombia