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Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

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Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby Andy P. » Tue May 28, 2013 5:19 pm

Hi folks, long time member here but I haven't posted in a couple years and forgot my login info, etc, so hence the new account :oops: .

I am travelling to Huaraz soon for a peak bagging trip in the Blanca. I have 5 days planned in Huaraz to acclimatize and explore the immediate area. One thing I consistently read in trip reports is that people have trouble staying healthy there, developing illnesses (especially GI issues) for seemingly no reason - even when taking strict precautions. Obviously you guys know I don't want this to happen and potentially ruin a trip which costs so much in time an money to even start!

I know I am over-reacting, but part of me wants to just drink bottled water and eat powerbars for 5 days; but since that is foolish I would appreciate some of your top tips for staying healthy in Huaraz - especially some suggestions for safe places to eat gringo-friendly food (I am aware of Cafe Andino but not many others). Thanks for your help - I hope this posting can be useful to not only me but others visiting Peru!

Andy

PS - My one piece of checked baggage is about to explode at the seams, I figured this is a no-brainier but could someone assure me that a closed cell foam sleeping pad, like a ridgerest or something (used or new), is easy to purchase in Huaraz? Thanks!
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby kevin trieu » Tue May 28, 2013 6:14 pm

I find these posts amusing. Eating at fancy/gringo places isn't going to lessen the chance of you getting stomach issues compared to local places. Go wild and eat like and with the locals. Try to find the street carts selling tripe and of course the Sex burger! To be brief, if you see a shitload of people eating somewhere, go there.
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby Tonka » Tue May 28, 2013 6:29 pm

I've found that my odds of getting sick go up when I'm at a tourist location. I've been sick much more often in a place like Cancun then in Africa or South America. If you can see the food cooking you're better off and stay away from hotel food in general. Plus, it usually sucks. Dishes are often the problem. I've gone on trips where I only use my personal camp cup for everything possible.
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby sharperblue » Tue May 28, 2013 6:51 pm

I think striking a balance is best; I've never gotten sick from food from any venue, touristy or otherwise, in Huaraz or Lima or any of the other small towns in the north, but I've never braved one of the street carts, except the corn, and i'm pretty careful to always scrub my hands well before eating, and to drink only bottled water. do that and treat the stream water with both a filter and water purification tablets and you'll likely be just fine
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby Vitaliy M. » Tue May 28, 2013 7:16 pm

Sex burger? That sounds like something I might enjoy *creepy voice*
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby rgg » Tue May 28, 2013 7:31 pm

There were several restaurants in Huaraz that I rather liked when visiting in 2011, but El Horno was definitely my favorite place for dinner, and occasionally for lunch. Excellent food and a nice atmosphere, what more do you want? For the sake of variety, I tried quite a few other places, and several were actually pretty good, but I kept coming back here.

In addition, I followed the usual recommendations: I drank either bottled water or purified it first (I had a water filter), even for brushing my teeth. I ate only fruit that you had to peel first, despite the fact that the strawberries at the local shops looked very appetizing. However, at El Horno I regularly ordered a salad and sometimes had ice cream for desert, two food items deemed to be slightly more risky to a sensitive western stomach. I suffered no ill effects though.
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby Buz Groshong » Tue May 28, 2013 7:47 pm

I've never had any problems, but then I always drink bottled water when in town and only eat at the better restaurants. I've had ice cream once with no ill effects, but almost never eat salad when I'm there. The problem with salad is that the farmer who grew it probably rinsed it off in the ditch, so unless it has been rinsed in iodine water it is going to be risky. On the treks, the cook has seen that everything was properly prepared, so salads haven't been an issue.

One slight problem that I did have the first time was caused by the water at Ishinca base camp; it has a bit of sulfur in it, which I am sensitive to. The sulfur is from pyrite in the granite and there is nothing that can be done about it.

PS: I've always brought along a 3/4 length ultra-light thermarest and the guide agency has supplied me with a thin foam pad.
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby Woodie Hopper » Tue May 28, 2013 9:54 pm

Some good advice above.

I would consider taking Cipro prophylactically for "traveler's diarrhea". Good for E. coli you might pick up if you get brave enough to try the sex burger from one of those tempting mobile stands. Immodium might be appropriate for mild diarrhea, but you should consult your doctor first if you plan to take medicines with you.

I purify all of my water too, even for brushing my teeth as Rob recommends above. I also avoid salad and only eat fruit that hasn't been peeled.

Make sure you give yourself a break from all that purifying when you're in town and try some local beer.

Woodie
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby sharperblue » Wed May 29, 2013 2:48 am

Woodie Hopper wrote:
I would consider taking Cipro prophylactically for "traveler's diarrhea"


Do NOT take Cipro prophylactically / preventatively!!!!!

It is a serious drug, meant as a measure of last resort when seriously ill; a tablet of Pepto Bismol can be taken once a day as a preventative, and immodium if the case is more serious to the point of dehydration. READ THE F-ING MANUAL for these drugs; they will WRECK your cartilage. They will forcibly re-boot your system. Even a single 250mg dose will do this, especially if you are a bit older.
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby Woodie Hopper » Wed May 29, 2013 4:31 am

Cipro has certainly been used prophylactically for "traveler's diarrhea". Yes it is strong medicine. Current consensus is that Cipro is not widely prescribed for this, although some physicians will. This is mostly due to the fact that there are concerns that widespread usage will promote resistant forms, and that this treatment shouldn't be used to give anyone a "false sense of security".

You could take Pepto or Imodium first, and add Cipro later if you get sick. I recommended Cipro because traveler's diarrhea is 80% caused by E. coli in Latin America, and due to the fact that the OP would spend five days in Huaraz while acclimatizing. In case prophylaxis is not wanted, Cipro would be a good drug to have if good medical treatment is not nearby. If you get dysentery (bloody diarrhea), Rifaximin will not be effective whereas Cipro would be the drug of choice.

If I'm going with someone who wants an antibiotic to take in case they get a serious cases of traveler's diarrhea, I'm bringing Cipro. This usage is not controversial unlike prophylaxis.

Cipro does have side effects, and cartilage destruction is not one that is described in the literature. Tendonitis is one, although it is rare. E. coli related diarrhea is much more common, but you need to weigh the risks and the benefits. As stated above, the older you are this risk increases. I have seen two cases of Achilles rupture on MRI, but just one in practice and one in a book. Don't use it on the mountain, and discontinue use if you experience soreness. Again, please consult your personal physician first, this drug is not available over the counter anyway.

Just to clarify: Pepto or Imodium first for prophylaxis is reasonable. If diarrhea is serious, an antibiotic should be added.

Woodie
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby paisajeroamericano » Wed May 29, 2013 5:56 am

My strategy for preventing La Venganza de Tupac Amaru in Peru is the same as my strategy for avoiding poison oak in California: DON'T BE AFRAID!!! Train the mind, the body will follow.
******************************************************************************************
In town, avoid the tap water. In the hills, expect stock contamination of most water sources below 5000m. Carry Cipro for emergencies, but save it for something SERIOUS. If you're squeamish, maybe skip the market in Huaraz. Pass on the chicken foot soup, save the ceviche for the coast, and don't even think about the aguas medicinales.

Whatever you do, just don't be a gringo freak who's afraid of everything, because you'll waste a great opportunity and you'll miss half the experience. Even if you're just interested in climbing and don't care about the culture, you'll soon realize that in Peru those two things mix way more than you may even imagine.

When I travel, I eat everything I can get my hands on. If the locals eat it, I want to try it. So far, so good. I swear, I see it all the time, but the people who drink bottled water and eat white rice and cookies get sick the most of all.

If you're concerned, I don't advise you to go too crazy, but try some fruits & vegetables you've never seen in your life, eat at a real restaurant next to real people that don't speak english, and buy some new interesting food and cook it up yourself. You'll have more fun and climb stronger for it!!!
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby Andy P. » Wed May 29, 2013 7:02 am

Some great tips in here, thank you so much for the responses. In regards to the Cipro issue, I do have some from my physician, but they echoed the comments to simply take tons of Pepto as preventative measures and only take Cipro if I am really in the hurt locker. I was surprised at just how much Pepto my doc recommended - 2 tablets before every meal. Seems excessive and I will probably only go with 1.

I really wish I could just follow my curious nose and eat the local foods. I am notorious among my family for always trying strange things, even buying from street vendors, when travelling abroad. I have been lucky to only get sick once in China. But Peru is different, this is a personal trip where I want to be extra cautious before I climb. Once I am done climbing and am returning via dirtbag bus trips to Cusco and on up to Quito you can rest assured that I will be experimenting with all sorts of new foods, I love that stuff! It's just the prior to climbing/acclimatization part of my trip I am concerned about.

I appreciate all the tips so far, keep them coming!
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby bledl » Wed May 29, 2013 8:26 am

I lived & travelled in Peru for nearly 12 month altogether. I got amobae and some other not so nice stuff - but I always enjoyed the great Peruvian food. You can get diseases in tourist places as well as on street side food places...drink only bottled drinks, wash your hands and avoid raw salads/vegetables. Go to places with a lot of people & ask locals about good food. Don`t miss Ceviche, Cuy, Chicharron and all the great Caldos. If in Huaraz "El horno" is a safe & clean eat for tourists. There are a few good Chifas & Cevicherias - just ask around. And if you arrive in Lima try Cevicheria "Heidi" in the old town centre - as long as there`s a hell of a lot of aji (chilli) in it - it`ll kill all bacteria. Enjoy! :D
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby Buz Groshong » Wed May 29, 2013 3:32 pm

Woodie Hopper wrote:Again, please consult your personal physician first, this drug is not available over the counter anyway.


But you can get it in Huaraz just by asking the pharmacist for it.
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Re: Top Tips for Avoiding "Huaraz Syndrome"

Postby Buz Groshong » Wed May 29, 2013 3:33 pm

Check out the page on Huaraz in logistical centers for recommendations for restaurants.
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