Diseases and vaccinations
The only proof of vaccination required is against yellow fever for those over one year of age arriving from areas at risk of yellow fever transmission. This includes most of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South America. The decision whether to take the vaccination will depend on whether you are at risk of disease from the country you are coming from and whether you are able to receive the vaccine. If you are arriving into Mauritius from an endemic zone then seek specialist advice as to whether you need the vaccine or can take an exemption certificate.
The traveller to any tropical country will benefit from the following vaccinations: tetanus, diphtheria and polio and hepatitis A. For longer trips, ie: four weeks or more, hepatitis B vaccine should also be considered and for shorter trips if you are working in hospitals or with children. You are advised to visit your doctor well in advance of your trip to plan the vaccine schedule.
According to the Mauritian authorities, there is no malaria risk in Mauritius or Rodrigues. Visitors generally do not take anti-malaria medication. To combat the annoyance of mosquitoes during the night, most hotels supply an electric mosquito repellent vaporiser. It is advisable to protect yourself with clothing and to wear a DEET-containing mosquito repellent, particularly in the evenings or when visiting nature reserves. Remember though that there may also be day-biting mosquitoes that can carry dengue fever or chikungunya so keep your repellent to hand at all times.
Although the water in Mauritius is officially safe to drink in most places, water, and ice, can be the cause of minor upsets. A sensible precaution is to drink only bottled water (obtainable everywhere), to clean your teeth with bottled water and to do without ice in your drinks. Bottled soft drinks, mixers and soda water are usually served cold. Do not drink tap water during or after a cyclone or heavy rains as bacteria and viruses can be washed into the water supply and treatment problems may occur.
Mauritius is considered to have no rabies in terrestrial animals but does potentially have rabies in bats. Exposure to bat saliva or brain tissue should be considered a potential risk and medical help should be sought as soon as possible. On the whole the risk for travellers is very low.
Although Mauritius enjoys a relatively low crime rate, petty crime is common and on the increase. Many attribute this to an increase in drug taking. Pickpockets target tourists in busy areas such as Port Louis market and Grand Baie. Self-caterers should be aware of the increase in reports of burglaries at villas where tourists have been staying. Visitors should take sensible precautions, including avoiding walking alone at night, not leaving valuables visible in cars and taking care of bags and valuables when walking in towns and tourist areas. Only rent accommodation that is registered with the Mauritius Tourism Authority and ensure you secure your villa or apartment.
In 2003, the Police du Tourisme (Tourism Police) was set up to patrol tourist areas and assist local police in the investigation of crimes against tourists. The Tourism Police can often be seen patrolling the beaches in specially marked 4×4 vehicles and they have a hotline number – 213 1740 – for the reporting of incidents.
The Tourism Police publishes a leaflet entitled Spend a safe holiday in Mauritius. Its advice includes: secure your valuables in the hotel safe, avoid carrying your passport unless needed, do not leave valuables in your car, park your car in well- lit areas, avoid showing large sums of cash in public, do not walk alone at night, and ensure service providers hold a valid licence. The leaflet specifies that tourists should check that any provider of boating excursions or watersports holds a pleasure craft licence. The craft should display a registration number preceded by PC for commercial activities, and not PPC (private pleasure craft).
Lone women travellers receive a fair amount of attention from males. It is usually well-meaning curiosity but don’t take chances that you would not take in your home country. For instance, don’t accept a lift from a lone male or group of men. Don’t walk alone at night and try to avoid dimly lit areas, such as beaches. Even during the day, make sure that you are not too isolated on a beach.
Dress standards in Mauritius are conservative. While swimwear is perfectly appropriate on the beach and around the pool, it is not appropriate elsewhere. There are no nudist beaches. Women who are expecting to visit a temple or sacred site should dress appropriately or carry a shawl to cover their shoulders and/or head, if required.