First-Aid Kit and Health
Keep these health and safety recommendations in mind during your trips.
The first-aid kit must be stored in a fresh, dry and clear place with easy access, and it must be placed outside the reach of children. The elements should be kept in good conditions, their expiration date controlled and replaced regularly.
Recommended basic items:
- Insect repellent (with DEET)
- Sanitizer (liquid or gel) for your hands
- Antiseptics for disinfecting injuries (povidone iodine, 10 vol. hydrogen peroxide or alcohol).
- White neutral soap for hand washing or injury washing.
- Clean gauze and bandages (7 and 10 cm wide) to clean wounds and stop bleeding.
- Band-aids and adhesive tape to attach bandages.
- Disposable latex gloves to avoid contaminating wounds.
- Scissors to cut gauze and bandages or clothes
- Medicines: painkillers, fever-reducing medicine, antihistamines, anti-diarrhoea medication, antiallergics, topical use antibiotics
- Cream for insect bites
- Injectable Decadron
- Oral rehydration salts
- Tablet for purifying water (depending on destination)
- Prescription drugs according to the pre-existing pathology (diabetics, high-blood pressure, asthma, etc.)
Always take an extra dose.
Protect yourself from the sun
- Suffering a sunstroke or a heat stroke can make you have a bad time during your trip. Fortunately, it is very easy to prevent them.
- Always wear a hat, sunscreen and, when necessary, sunglasses.
- If possible, avoid being in the sun during the hottest hours.
- Stay hydrated. Always carry a refillable bottle with drinking water.
During your tours, take breaks to rest and drink water.
The altitude sickness (also called “soroche” or “apunamiento”) occurs in regions above 2500 metres without preparation in advance. It may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, sleeping disorders and, in the most serious cases, lung oedema and brain oedema. Following simple steps can avoid this condition.
How to prevent altitude sickness:
- Avoid abrupt ascents in a few hours.
- For the first two or three days in the high altitude, do little physical activity.
- Consume carbohydrates (sugars) in small but in multiple rations.
- Do not smoke or drink alcoholic beverages.
- Do not take medicines that may cause sleepiness.
- Consult your doctor to check if he/she recommends a specific medicine before the journey.
The dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti. mosquito bite. If you are travelling to an area where these diseases are present (provinces of the centre and north of Argentina), follow these recommendations:
- Wear light colour clothes and long trousers, especially outdoors.
- Use repellent on your exposed skin and reapply it according to the instructions for use.
- Also spray your clothes: mosquitoes can bite through thin clothes.
- Use mosquito repellent coils or tablets.
- Protect your baby’s cradle or stroller with a mosquito net when outside, and allow for good ventilation.
In the event of symptoms such as fever, headache (especially in the area of the eyes), muscle pain, joints pain, rash, nausea and vomiting, consult the local medical service. Avoid self-medication, especially taking aspirins or Ibuprofen and applying injectable medication that may lead to hemorrhage.
Bees, wasps and ants
Their bites and stings are usually not dangerous, except when they are massive (as in rare bee hive attacks) or when they attack people allergic to their poison.
What to do to prevent bites
- Avoid stirring honeycombs, bee hives or anthills.
- If a bee sits on your body, do not try to kill it or expel it. It is best to remain still or to make slow movements until it flies away.
- Avoid leaving waste and/or exposed litter which may attract them.
- In the season of abundant wasps, when you eat outdoors, pay special attention as some of the wasp species (such as the Vespula germanica, known as the German “yellowjacket” in Patagonia) usually sit on food and do not get easily frightened.
- Avoid walking barefoot in areas with a high density of wasps, as their nests may be underground.
- Check your clothes and shoes before putting them on.
If you are bitten
- Wash the bite area with water and soap.
- Apply ice pack locally (wrapped ice) for 10 minutes to reduce the swelling.
- Repeat at 10-minute intervals.
- Watch the bite area for a few hours and on the following days. If the redness or pain increases, go to the closest medical centre..
- If it is a bee sting, remove the stinger without squeezing it (always in the same direction in which it was inserted to avoid introducing more poison into the wound). Use a plastic card o a similar object. Do not use tweezers and do not push with your fingers.
Spiders and scorpions
In your journeys, you will see all types of spiders and scorpions: the large majority are harmless, including some species that may look frightening, such as the tarantulas. In Argentina, only four species have medical relevance and there is treatment for all of them.
- Black widows (Latrodectus): they are between 1.5 and 3 cm long with legs stretched and blackish with red or orange spots on the abdomen. They are not aggressive and tend to live hidden under trunks, piles of material, wires or rocks in wild and rural areas all over the country.
- The Chilean recluse spider (Loxosceles laeta): light brown spiders up to 3 cm diametre with their legs stretched. They live all over the country, even in cities, inside homes (corners or other uncleaned hiding places with periodic movement behind picture frames or furniture, closets, wall cracks and storerooms with materials). They are not aggressive.
- Banana spider or wandering spider (Phoneutria nigriventer): these are large spiders, about 12 cm with their legs stretched, greyish brown with spots. They can be distinguished for their reddish colour around the cheliceral teeth (“tusks”) and because they will lift both front legs when they feel threatened, revealling their typical white stripes. In Argentina, they can be found in Misiones, north of Corrientes, Formosa and the yungas of Salta and Jujuy, in forest environments and around houses. They are nocturnal and mostly live in trees.
- Brazilian red house scorpion (Tityus trivittatus): They are found in almost all the country. They are nocturnal, have a light colour and are distinguished by the three bands or stripes on the back, its long fine tweezers and a small spine on the stinger.
- Before you dress or put on shoes, shake your clothes, sheets and any object that may have been on the floor where a snake might have hidden.
- Do not put your hands in places out of your sight.
- Avoid walking barefoot in areas known to have scorpions.
- Do not touch any spider or scorpion.
In case of a bite
- Inform the people closer to you to assist you and transfer you to a health care centre to apply the specific anti-venom.
- Try to take the animal (even if it is dead) to be identified and to determine if treatment is required.
- Remove rings, bracelets, necklaces, ankle bracelets or shoes which may block blood flow.
- Perform local antisepsis.
- Apply cold packs or ice on the bite area.
Out of the 130 species of snakes in Argentina, only 15 can cause a severe medical injury: yararas, rattlesnakes, coral snakes and a few other snakes. Most of the species you will see are completely harmless, but as a general rule, never try to manipulate them.
How to prevent bites?
- If you walk across areas where poisonous snakes may be found, respect the trails and marked sectors. Avoid walking with bare feet through high vegetation or wild areas.
- If you go trekking to areas with high presence of snakes, wear boot-type shoes, rubber boots and/or stockings to protect you above the ankles.
- Do not put your hands in holes or caves and do not lift stones or trunks with your hands.
- When you walk in isolated areas, find out first where you could go for medical treatment with appropriate anti-venom.
What to do in case of injury caused by a snake?
If poisoning is suspected or confirmed after a poisonous snake bite, the person must be immediately transferred to a hospital to be checked and treated as soon as possible. If necessary, the health care professionals will use antivenom (Antiophidic serum) to neutralise the toxin. In general, if treated in due time, poisonous snake bites can be treated effectively. The application of antiophidic serum must be made only by qualified personnel at medical institutions .
What to do:
- Inform and go immediately to a health care centre to be administered a specific anti-venom medicine.
- Keep calm and do not panic.
- Stay hydrated with water.
- Remove rings, bracelets, necklaces, ankle bracelets and shoes which may block blood flow.
- Restrict the person’s movement.
- If possible, take the animal or take a photo of it to allow the specialists to identify it and apply the appropriate treatment.
What not to do:
- Do not apply any substances or give alcoholic beverages or medicines to the infected person.
- Do not use tourniquets or elastic bands.
- Do not cut or cauterise the bite area.
- Do not suck the bite area.
- Do not supply alcoholic drinks or stimulants.
- Do not administer home remedies, alcohol, kerosene, vinegar, etc.
Centro Nacional de Intoxicaciones (National Poisoning Centre) National Hospital Prof. Alejandro Posadas 0800-333-0160
Encounter with large animals:
Pumas and yaguaretes
Pumas and yaguaretes are shy animals.In Argentina, there are very few records of attacks on people. In all cases, take into account the following guidelines:
In sites where their presence is detected:
- Walk along the trail in groups of people.
- Do not leave children unattended.
In case you encounter one:
- Keep calm and try not to run.
- Do not turn your back on it.
- Do not get close to the animal, move away from it slowly while looking at it.
- Clap, lift your arms, pretend to be as big as possible.
- Inform the closest park ranger or guide.