On account of Ecuador’s diverse geography, there is risk for Malaria in some parts of the country and not in others. Mosquitoes, the primary carriers of malaria, do not like heights. As a result, travelers run little risk of getting Malaria while in the mountains and mountain valleys of Ecuador’s High Sierra Region. On the other hand, because mosquitoes thrive in the Ecuador’s hot and humid Coastal region and the Amazon jungle lowlands, you must take the appropriate precautions while traveling in these regions. According to CDC, all the provinces along the eastern border and the Pacific coast, including Cañar Cotopaxi, El Oro, Esmeraldas, Guayas (including Guayaquil), Los Rios, Manabi, Morona-Santiago, Napo, Pastaza, Pinchincha, and Zamora-Chinchipe are risk areas. CDC does not consider Quito and vicinity, the central highland tourist areas, and the Galapagos Islands to be risk areas.
Travelers can eliminate much of the Malarial risk by taking prescription antimalarial drugs and protecting themselves against mosquito bites. If you will be visiting an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed by your physician. You can protect yourself from mosquito bites by using insect repellent (the repellent must contain DEET), always wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and sleeping beneath permethrin-impregnated mosquito nets.
There are several drugs on the market that prevent malaria (called “antimalarials”). The kind of antimalarial you need to take depends on where in South America, or the world for that matter, you will be traveling. Mefloquine (brand name Lariam®) is the recommended drug for risk areas in Ecuador. Mefloquine should be taken 1 week before arrival in the malaria risk area, once a week while in the Malaria risk area, and once a week for 4 weeks after leaving the Malaria risk area. If you become ill with a fever, even months after your trip, inform your doctor that you traveled to a Malaria-infected area. Also, as with any prescription drug, be sure to follow the label directions and ask your doctor if have questions or suffer side effects.
Yellow fever occurs in certain jungle locations in South America and Africa. In South America, Yellow Fever is a very rare cause of illness for travelers, but, if you plan on spending time in the rainforest or coastal lowlands, you should get immunized. The vaccine is relatively inexpensive (relative to a few weeks in the hospital that is) and it is a worthwhile investment if you come across some pesky infected mosquitoes.
Like Malaria, Yellow Fever is a disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Likewise, you should follow the same precautions as with Malaria. Employ insect repellent, protective clothing, and mosquito netting to minimize the risk of bites from infected mosquitoes.
The Yellow Fever vaccine is required for entry into certain South American countries. As of February 2000, the Yellow Fever vaccine was not required to enter Ecuador unless you were coming from a country that is considered a Yellow Fever risk area. In the event that the situation changes suddenly, we recommend that you check with theEcuadorian Consulate in your country before departing for Ecuador.