The health risk information presented here is summarized from Shoreland Travax®, a decision-support tool used by health care providers to perform a detailed health risk analysis based on specific locations, individual travel styles, and traveler risk behaviors. Travax provides practitioners current, independently researched malaria risk and prevention recommendations in a map-based format that goes beyond the annual WHO and CDC statements included here. Not included here are current reports from Travax of disease outbreaks or environmental events that may pose elevated risks to travelers’ health and safety. The Providers section of this site offers a directory of health care providers who utilize Shoreland Travax for travel health counseling. Learn more about the detailed reports and maps available from these practitioners (includes links to samples).
The Dominican Republic is a developing nation but is in the upper half of the world's economies. Located in the Caribbean Sea, it occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola. Its climate is tropical with little seasonal temperature variation.
Depending on your itinerary, your personal risk factors, and the length of your visit, your health care provider may offer you vaccination against cholera, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, rabies, or typhoid fever. Routine immunizations, such as those that prevent tetanus/diphtheria or "childhood" diseases, should be reviewed and updated as needed.
See also: Library article for Malaria
The following is current information as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
WHO—International Travel and Health (current online update, Country List)(2017) Malaria risk exclusively due to P. falciparum exists throughout the year, especially in the western provinces of Dajabón, Elias Pina and San Juan. In 2015, transmission increased in the National District and the provinces of Santo Domingo and La Altagracia, specifically in Bávaro district. Risk in other areas is low to negligible. There is no evidence of P. falciparum resistance to any antimalarial drug.
- Recommended prevention in risk areas: C – Risk of P. falciparum malaria, in combination with reported chloroquine and sulfadoxine–pyrimethamine resistance. Mosquito bite prevention plus atovaquone–proguanil or doxycycline or mefloquine chemoprophylaxis (select according to reported side effects and contraindications) a
aAlternatively, for travel to rural areas with low risk of malaria infection, mosquito bite prevention can be combined with stand–by emergency treatment (SBET).
WHO Country List footnote: When available, the date of the most recent update or confirmation is indicated in parentheses in the country list. If no date is indicated, the most recent update or confirmation was provided before 2013.
CDC—Health Information for International Travel (current online edition)Areas with malaria: Primarily in the provinces by the border with Haiti, and the provinces (including resort areas) of Santo Domingo and La Altagracia. Rare locally transmitted cases in the city of Santo Domingo (Distrito Nacional) and other provinces.
- Estimated relative risk of malaria for US travelers: Low.
- Drug resistance4: None.
- Malaria species: P. falciparum 100%
- Recommended chemoprophylaxis: Provinces bordering Haiti, and provinces of Santo Domingo (except Santo Domingo city [Distrito Nacional]) and La Altagracia: Atovaquone-proguanil, chloroquine, doxycycline, or mefloquine. Santo Domingo (Distrito Nacional) city and other provinces: Mosquito avoidance only.
4 Refers to P. falciparum malaria unless otherwise noted.
See also: Library article for Travelers' Diarrhea
High risk exists throughout the country, including in deluxe accommodations. Food and beverage precautions may reduce the likelihood of illness.
Travelers should carry loperamide for self-treatment of diarrhea and, if risk is moderate to high, an antibiotic to add if diarrhea is severe. Consult a knowledgeable health care provider regarding which antibiotic is appropriate for you and most effective for your destination.
Other Food-Borne Illnesses
Precautions to prevent seafood poisoning may be needed.
Insect- and Arthropod-Borne Diseases
Other Disease and Health Risks
The material below includes information from the U.S. Department of State (DOS), U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), as well as from additional open-source material. Standard safety precautions that apply to all international travel can be found in the Library article Safety and Security.
No intrinsic risk of attack by terrorist groups exists, but unforeseen attacks are possible.
Risk of violent crime (armed robbery and sexual assault) and high risk of petty crime exist throughout the country, especially in Santo Domingo and beach resort areas, and along routes to and from Las Americas International Airport. Sexual assaults occurring in beach resorts have often been perpetrated by resort or hotel employees. Theft of items from checked baggage in airports is common.
Scams involving ATMs, credit cards, and requests to export parcels that contain hidden narcotics have been reported.
Protests and demonstrations occur throughout the country and have the potential to turn violent without warning. Bystanders are at risk of harm from violence or from the response by authorities.
Hazardous water conditions (including currents, tides, and undertows) may occur. Heed posted warnings, and avoid beaches that are not patrolled. Do not swim alone or after dark, and do not walk on any beach after dark.
Basic safety standards for recreational water activities (including scuba diving, snorkeling, and jet-skiing) may not be in place. Rent water sports equipment from reputable operators. Scuba dive only with personnel certified by PADI or NAUI, and use equipment only from PADI- or NAUI-certified dive operators.
Basic safety standards for adventure activities (including eco-tourism activities) may not be in place. Travelers should only use reputable adventure-sport operators for activities and equipment rentals.
Very high risk of traffic-related injury or death exists. The road-traffic death rate is greater than 24 per 100,000 population, the highest risk category. Carefully assess the safety of transportation options before any road travel. Speed laws are poorly enforced. Seek local advice before traveling on roads outside urban areas after dark. Driving at night is not advised.
Traffic flows on the right-hand side of the road. Travelers (including drivers and pedestrians) accustomed to traffic moving on the opposite side should be vigilant when navigating traffic.
Avoid public buses due to safety and security concerns.
Due to security concerns, travel on roads to and from Las Americas International Airport late at night or early in the morning is unsafe.
Many taxis are unsafe. Use taxis from official ranks or dispatched via smart phone app or radio from a reputable company and ascertain the license or identification number of the dispatched vehicle.
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has determined that the civil aviation authority of this country oversees its air carriers in accordance with minimum international safety standards.
The hurricane season is from June through November. Floods, mudslides, and landslides may occur.
Seismic and volcanic activity frequently occur.
Selected Embassies or Consulates in Dominican Republic
- United States: [+1-809] 567-7775; do.usembassy.gov
- Canada: [+1-809] 262-3100; www.dominicanrepublic.gc.ca
- United Kingdom: [+1-809] 472-7111; www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-santo-domingo
- Australia: [+1-809] 920-0020
Dominican Republic's Embassies or Consulates in Selected Countries
- In the U.S.: drembassyusa.org
- In Canada: [+1] 613-569-9893
- In the U.K.: dominicanembassy.org.uk
- In Australia: [+61] 02-4620-3247
HIV testing may be required to obtain a work or residence visa.