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ISHPSSB & ABFHiB 2017 Meeting

Plan your trip

Safety and Health

Although the Brazilian immigration laws do not require this, it is strongly suggested that foreign visitors and participants acquire travel insurance. Besides that, we provide some advices and suggestions concerning your health and safety in Brazil.

No Zika infections were reported in Brazil during the Olympics, either among athlets or visitors, the World Health Organization said September 1st, 2016. Read report in the New York Times:

People concerned with the Zika virus outbreak should consult information added below, at the request of the Executive Committee of the ISHPSSB.

During the hottest months, in Brazil (November to March) there is an increase of mosquitoes and of the diseases they transmit. One of them is Yellow Fever. See specific information about Yellow Fever in Brazil in this link:  

In July, Yellow Fever is not expected to be a problem. However, those concerned with this disease may be willing to get vaccinated at least one month before they travel to Brazil.


Nowadays, the Zika virus, which produces an infection called the Zika fever, is a serious worldwide concern. General information about this subject can be find at the sites of the North American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC):


General information can also be found at the Wikipedia:

The Zika virus is transmitted mainly by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, especially the female of Aedes aegypti (which is also responsible for the transmission of dengue fever and Chikungunya virus). This map shows the current worldwide occurrence of Aedes aegypti (source: this link).

Aedes aegypti global distribution

Global Aedes aegypti distribution in 2015. The map depicts the probability of occurrence (blue=none, red=highest occurrence). 

The Aedes aegypti is rather common in several areas of Brazil, but the probability of being bitten by this mosquito in São Paulo city is low, as shown by this map (click on the map to see a larger image)..

Aedes aegypti distribution, in Brazil

 Aedes aegypti distribution in South America, in 2015. The map depicts the probability of occurrence (blue=none, red=highest occurrence). The enlarged detail shows the State of São Paulo, and the arrow points to São Paulo city, which is in a blue area (low risk). 

Risk of transmission of arboviruses by Aedes aegypti is much higher in summer than in winter, and the 2017 ISHPSSB & ABFHiB meeting will happen in São Paulo during the winter, when the weather is rather cool.

During warm weather periods and at regions of higher incidence of mosquitoes, travellers may use insect repellents applied to the skin and clothes, to avoid being bitten. One of the most efficient repellents available in Brazil is the brand "Exposis Extreme", with Icaridin, produced by the Osler Laboratories.

Repellents should always be applied after sunscreen, for effective protection. Repellents should be reapplied at regular intervals (after a few hours), after swimming and in hot, humid conditions when they may be removed by perspiration. Some people benefit from taking vitamin B12 complex as prevention against mosquito bites. 

Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Brazil every year without incident. But obviously you need to be careful.


All travelers should ensure they have adequate travel health insurance.

While most travelers have a healthy and safe trip, there are some risks that are relevant to travelers regardless of destination. These may for example include road traffic and other accidents, diseases transmitted by insects or ticks, diseases transmitted by contaminated food and water, sexually transmitted infections, or health issues related to the heat or cold.

In the specific case of Brazil, health risks depend on the region you are going to visit. If you are planning to see the Amazon forest, there are several special precautions you should take, such as yellow fever vaccine. If you are only going to visit São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, that is not necessary.

Brazil, like most countries with a whiff of exoticism, is a breeding ground for all kinds of disconcerting medical complaints, but the chances of one befalling you are so slender there is very little point worrying about it. Sure, the echinococcus parasite could wreak havoc in your liver, but unless you’re planning on working closely with sheep in the extreme south of the country, the chances of it finding its way in are next to nil. Similarly, onchocerciasis sounds just awful: it’s an infection caused by a roundworm wriggling into your eye, resulting in blindness. But unless if an extended stay with the Yanomami tribes in the densely forested Amazonian mountains on the Venezuelan border is on the itinerary, you can stop worrying.

The most common health problem of foreign visitors is travelers’ diarrhea (TD), which usually comes hand in hand with at least one other symptom, such as nausea, fever or stomach cramps. Sometimes it’s caused simply by your body having a mild panic about its new diet, but usually it’s the result of a bacteria. The main determinants of risk are the choice of drink and food. Travelers should wash their hands after visiting the toilet, and before preparing or eating food. Alcohol gel is helpful when hand-washing facilities are not available. Pay attention to the general hygiene condition of the places where you eat or drink.

Drink. Water and other drinks served in unopened, factory produced cans or bottles with intact seals such as carbonated drinks, commercially prepared fruit drinks, water, beer, wine and pasteurized drinks can be considered safe. Drinks made with boiled water and served steaming hot are also safe such as tea and coffee. In Brazil, it is not advisable to drink tap water. Freshly prepared juices served in restaurants and hotels are usually safe, but avoid those served on the streets.

Smoke. Smoking is prohibited in enclosed places, all over the country.

Food. Recently prepared, thoroughly cooked food that is served piping hot, fruit that can be peeled by the traveler (such as bananas and oranges), and pasteurized dairy produce such as yoghurts, milk and cheese are safe. Certain foods are prone to contamination and where possible should be avoided: salads, uncooked fruit and vegetables (except in reliable restaurants and hotels), raw or undercooked meat, fish or shellfish, unpasteurized dairy products, food from street traders. One should be careful with some highly spiced typical Brazilian dishes.

Of course, food and drink served at the conference location will be safe.

If you have diarrhea and it persists for more than three days, seek medical advice.

The second most common health problem of foreign visitors is due to weather conditions. Although July is winter season in the southern hemisphere, it may be quite warm and sunny. Travelers should keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other non-alcoholic drinks. They should also use sunscreen protection, to avoid sunburn, even when the weather is cloudy.

Mosquitos are rather common in Brazil, especially when the weather is warm and wet. Some of them may transmit several diseases (such as dengue fever, the Chikungunya virus and the Zika virus). They are absent or harmless in cold environments, such as air conditioned hotel rooms and restaurants. Travelers may use insect repellents applied to the skin and clothes, to avoid being bitten. Repellents should always be applied after sunscreen, for effective protection. Repellents should be reapplied at regular intervals, after swimming and in hot, humid conditions when they may be removed by perspiration. Some people benefit from taking vitamin B12 complex as prevention against mosquito bites. See additional information about Zika virus at the top of this page.

Sexually transmitted infections are an important issue. New sexual partnerships and unprotected intercourse is relatively common amongst travelers. Increased sexual risk taking abroad is often linked to alcohol use. Those travelling without a steady partner should be aware of the risks, casual sex abroad often happens, even when it is not planned. Reliable condoms should be carried and used to reduce the risks.

For people who will visit forest regions (especially Central and North Brazil), there are several specific recommendations. Travelers are advised to receive Hepatitis A and B vaccinations and make sure routine immunizations are up-to-date. Malaria is present in the states of Acre, Amapá, Rondônia, Amazonas, Roraima and Tocantins and is some parts of Mato Grosso and Pará, particularly in remote jungle areas which have been settled for less than five years. Using insect repellant, wearing clothing with long sleeves and pants, sleeping under a net and taking anti-malarial drugs can help reduce the chance of contracting this mosquito-borne virus. Yellow fever is also a concern in some parts of Brazil. A yellow fever vaccination is recommended if you are traveling to forest regions. One should also pay special attention to hygiene, food and drink in those areas.


Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit Brazil every year without incident. But obviously you need to be careful. Here are some safety tips for first-timers in Brazil.

The most common forms of crime affecting tourists are pickpockets and street muggings. It has to be said that much of the crime that occurs is opportunistic crime, meaning that criminals focus more on those they think are easy or high-value targets. For example, the elderly, someone walking alone at night, or someone wearing lots of jewelry.

Your security depends very much on yourself... A simple rule: be discrete and try to blend in as much as possible in the locals. Don’t use identifiable “tourist clothes”. Also try to appear that you know where you are and what’s going on, rather than gawping at a map and looking lost. Familiarizing yourself with the area you are visiting and acting confident as you walk through the streets will help prevent thieves from deciding you are a good target. Stare at everyone, everywhere, as everyone will stare at everyone else in Brazil. It’s polite to do so and you will always be aware of your surroundings.

Leave the passport and other credit cards in the safe at the hotel. Make a copy of the biographic page of your passport and carry this with you, in case you are asked to show some ID. Leave the original together with your driver's license in your safety box (unless you're driving, of course).

Don't show fancy cameras, state-of-the-art smartphones, golden chains and other jewelry, expensive watches... Your invaluable valuables belong in the safety box of your hotel room. In short DO NOT SHOW you have things that are worth a lot of money. I you use a "better" camera you want to use then I would advise to put it away immediately after each use, or just put it inside a supermarket plastic bag (or whatever thing that makes it look "unimportant").

Do not carry a lot of cash around. Carry around only enough for your expected purchases and a credit card (none if you don't expect to use it). Take extra care when taking out money from an automatic teller machine. Beware of suspicious characters lurking nearby. It is best to use the machines located inside banks, buildings and shopping centers. Do not count your money in front of everybody when you take fresh cash out of the ATM, etc.

You should take special care of handbags, purses, daypacks, backpacks and other bags where you have anything valuable. Hold them firmly in front of you. Never leave your goods out of sight.

Be careful about public transportation at night. Take a taxi and not a bus at night. Late at night, consider booking a radio taxi or calling for a regular taxi. Many people prefer calling a taxi company rather than picking one randomly in the street.

Be aware of your surroundings and others when walking on the street, especially at night. If you see a group of young kids that look suspicious walking towards you, cross the street. Avoid dark/enclosed areas. Try to move around in a group, preferably with local friends. At night, avoid walking on the streets alone.

Don't take strangers you've just met back to your hotel room – even if you think you are in love! This is the easiest way to become a victim of violence or theft.

Don’t get drunk, you will hardly see a Brazilian get drunk. Try to drink up to your limit and stop before feeling tipsy or getting drunk. Otherwise you’ll be an easy victim.

Don't get involved with the drug scene, even if you think you know what you're doing. Drug consumption other than alcohol is a criminal offense in Brazil, so if you are into it, don’t do it in public, otherwise you run the risk of getting in trouble with both the police and the guys who are trying to sell you the drugs.

If you happen to get involved with prostitutes, the odds of being robbed will be much higher, it’s your choice… and if the girl or boy is under 18 you will end up in jail if caught.

If the worse happens and you are approached by some criminal element, try and keep calm. Never fight back. They may have guns, be on drugs, could react violently. You certainly have more to lose than they do. Report to the special tourist police if you are a victim of any crime.

If you get in trouble with the police, do not offer a bribe. It could turn things go from bad to sour.

Traffic accidents are more common in Brazil than in Europe and North America. Avoid driving in Brazil, and always use seat belts. If driving, don’t drink alcohol. In Brazil, it is a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol (zero tolerance), punishable by imprisonment). Be careful when you cross a street. 

ISHPSSB & ABFHiB 2017 Meeting   
International Society for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Biology (ISHPSSB)   
Associação Brasileira de Filosofia e História da Biologia (ABFHiB)   
São Paulo, Brazil, 16 to 21 July, 2017   

São Paulo, Brazil
16 to 21 July, 2017

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