45 Health Tips for Traveling to Africa!
If you’re travelling to Africa, you are probably getting your camera equipment, your cotton clothes and your sunglasses ready for the trip. Are you also looking at health precautions you should take? Africa is not ridden with diseases, but certain major illnesses are prevalent in this continent. We present 45 health tips here to help you truly prepare for your trip to Africa.
Precautions To Take Prior To Travel
- Visit a GP who specializes in Travel Medicine, at least 6 to 8 weeks before travel.
- Get vaccinated against prevalent diseases in Africa such as Yellow Fever and Malaria, among others.
- Also get vaccinated against diphtheria, Rabies, typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, tetanus, mumps, measles, polio and rubella.
- Obtain enough anti-malarial prophylactics to last you for the duration of your trip.
- Obtain a Vaccination Certificate from your doctor; Certain African countries such as South Africa, will ask to see proof of Yellow Fever vaccination.
- Get your doctor to prescribe sufficient quantity of prescription medications to last your trip.
First Aid And Sanitary Aids You Should Pack
- Carry diarrhea medication, painkillers and anti-inflammatories such as aspirin, Tylenol and Advil.
- Take a few bottles of Ciproflaxin antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea and intestinal infections
- Pack sunglasses and sunblock to protect your skin and eyes from harmful UV rays.
- Carry alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol, antibacterial hand wipes and tissues
- Take antihistamines such as Benadryl for allergic reactions.
- For known severe allergies, take 2 EPI-pens with you.
- Even a small cut can get infected in some areas; carry Bactroban or a similar antibacterial ointment
- For allergic reactions to bug bites, take Hydrocortisone cream
- Pack plenty of bandages, gauze, band aids and gauze rolls with adhesive tape
- Don’t forget to pack safety pins, tweezers and scissors
- Take two or three thermometers, both digital and analog; it’s easy to lose them
- Carry Oral Rehydration Salts to prevent dehydration and iodine tablets to purify water
- Carry plenty of sterile needles and syringes to prevent HIV/AIDS – some rural hospitals tend to reuse their needles.
Things You Should Do Before Your Travel
- Study news reports of recent disease outbreaks in the areas to which you want to travel.
- Get a comprehensive travel insurance that allows medical expense reimbursements
- Make sure your health insurance covers treatment for adventure sports and travel related injuries
- Prepare a food and medical allergy card and instructions for emergencies to carry on your person.
Prevent And Manage Malaria
- Check the US Center for Disease Control site for current malaria risk areas in Africa, at www.cdc.gov/MALARIA/
- Start taking your anti-malarial drugs before leaving the trip and continue taking them during your travel and for 4 weeks after you return home. These drugs won’t prevent malaria, but will reduce the severity of the illness
- Use bed nets treated with permethrin and insect repellents with 30%-50% DEET to ward off mosquitoes
- Apply 15% concentration of Picaridin on your skin in high-malaria prone areas.
- Spray rooms with flying-insect sprays that contain pyrethroid insecticide to kill all flying insects including mosquitoes.
- Stay indoors in a screened area during dusk and dawn, peak biting periods for malaria mosquitoes.
- Wear lightweight long pants, long-sleeved tops and hats to prevent bites
- If you’re traveling from the US, contact the CDC Malaria Hotline at 770-488-7788 during weekdays between 9 am-5 pm, EST, or 770-488-7100 for emergency help after hours.
Prevent Fungal And Viral Infections
- Avoid direct contact with animals, even pets that look clean
- Wash any bite or scratch with water and soap and see a doc immediately.
- If there’s no doctor around, dust the wound with antiseptic powder and bind it so it doesn’t get further infected.
- Avoid body piercing, tattooing and injections to prevent infections such as HIV and viral hepatitis.
- If you need to take a shot at a hospital, ask for a brand new syringe or provide your own
- Keep your feet dry and clean to prevent fungal and parasitic infections
- Do not walk barefoot anywhere, especially on beaches where animals may have defecated
Prevent Food And Water-Borne Diseases
- If bottled water is not available, purify tap water with portable water filter and Iodine tablets before drinking
- Wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap or gel several times a day, especially before eating.
- Avoid street food; if you must eat, avoid raw and exotic foods.
- Avoid dairy, or eat only pasteurized dairy products
- Boil milk on low flame for 5 minutes before drinking it
- Eat only at places frequented by other tourists
- Ask other tourists at your hotel for recommended eating places; avoid experimenting and taking risks