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J Travel Med. 2005 Mar-Apr;12(2):61-5.

Pretravel health advice among international travelers visiting Cuzco, Peru.

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  • 1Instituto de Medicina Tropical, Lima, Peru.



Cuzco, a Peruvian city of historical interest located 3,326 m above sea level, is a frequent destination for tourists. We conducted a descriptive study to assess the extent and sources of pretravel health advice received by international travelers before their arrival to Cuzco.


Data were collected as part of a health survey among travelers. Between August and November 2002, travelers between 15 and 65 years old were invited to fill out a questionnaire in the departing area of Cuzco's international airport.


A total of 5,988 travelers participated. The mean age was 35.4 years (SD 11.4 yr); 50.6% were female and 50.8% were single. Tourism was the reason for traveling in 90.2% of the participants, and 89.3% of them were traveling with companions. Pretravel health information was received by 93.6%. The median number of information sources was two, with books (41.5%), travel medicine clinics (38.8%), the Internet (23.3%), and general practitioners (22.7%) as the main sources. Most frequently received recommendations were about safe food and water consumption (85%), use of insect repellents (66.0%), sunburn protection (64.4%), and condom use (22%). Only 16.5% took medication to prevent altitude sickness, and 14.2% took medication to prevent traveler's diarrhea. Variables independently associated with receiving pretravel health information from a health care professional were female gender, country of residence other than the United States, length of stay in Cuzco > 7 days, length of stay in other Peruvian cities > 7 days, tourism as the main reason for visiting Cuzco, traveling with companions, and consulting of more than one source of information.


Most travelers arriving to Cuzco had received pretravel health information, and the majority obtained it from more than one source. Recommendations addressed for specific health risks, such as altitude sickness prophylaxis, were received by few travelers.

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