South Florida doesn't present any unusual health hazards for most people. Folks with certain medical conditions, such as liver disease, diabetes, and stomach ailments, however, should avoid eating raw oysters, which can carry a natural bacterium linked to severe diarrhea, vomiting, and even fatal blood poisoning. Cooking kills the bacteria, so if in doubt, order your oysters steamed, broiled, or fried.
Florida has millions of mosquitoes and invisible biting sand flies (known as "no-see-ums"), especially in the coastal and marshy areas. Fortunately, neither insect carries malaria or other diseases. Keep these pests at bay with a good insect repellent.
It's especially important to protect yourself against sunburn. Don't underestimate the strength of the sun's rays down here, even in the middle of winter. Use a sunscreen with a high protection factor and apply it liberally. Limit your exposure to the sun, especially during the first few days of your trip and thereafter from 11am to 2pm. Remember that children need more protection than do adults.
If You Get Sick
Hospitals are as ubiquitous in South Florida as palm trees. If you're in a major city, you'll have no problem and even if you're not, you'll be near enough to a facility that will provide adequate health care.
Crime & Safety
While tourist areas in Florida are generally safe, you should always stay alert. This is particularly true in the larger cities, such as Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and St. Petersburg. If you're in doubt about which neighborhoods are safe, ask your hotel's front-desk staff or the area's tourist office.
Remember also that hotels are open to the public, and in a large hotel, security may not be able to screen everyone entering. Always lock your room door. Don't assume that, once inside your hotel, you are automatically safe and no longer need to be aware of your surroundings.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.