Health check & travel vaccination recommendations
If you are travelling to African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, South Sudan and other African countries the following vaccinations are generally recommended;
The health check is a good idea to ensure you are up to date with all the common childhood vaccinations before visiting an African country (you may even need a booster). This includes immunizations for Tetanus and Diphtheria, Whooping cough (Pertussis), polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).
Hepatitis A (also called Hep A or HAV) is typically transmitted through contaminated food or very close personal contact with an infected person. Water-borne outbreaks can happen in under-developed or developing countries. The full two-dose Hep A vaccine is strongly recommended when visiting under-developed or developing countries and other precautions for hygiene and food safety should be taken.
Some African countries won’t let you enter without the required vaccinations. The most common vaccination required on entry into African countries is Yellow Fever vaccination. Your Travel Doctor will be able to recommend when vaccinations form part of your destination country’s entry requirements.
A Yellow Fever vaccination is compulsory if you are returning to Australia from Uganda and a vaccination certificate from an approved travel vaccination centre will be required upon re-entry. Yellow Fever mainly spreads from the bite of infected mosquitoes. We strongly advise travellers to vaccinate against Yellow Fever. The Yellow Fever vaccination is not compatible with some vaccinations so we recommend you seek travel vaccination advise well before the departure. Please note that the Yellow Fever Vaccination is a mandatory vaccination when travelling to some African countries.
Typhoid Fever is caused by bacteria (from the Bacteria Salmonella group) found in contaminated food and water. Food is commonly contaminated by the hands of carriers and examples of food that could be contaminated are ice, shell-fish from sewerage contaminated water, raw fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products. Typhoid fever occurs worldwide but is more common in developing countries. We strongly recommend protecting yourself by getting the Typhoid Vaccine if you are travelling to a developing country.
Depending on the destination, purpose and length of your trip a Rabies vaccination may be recommended. Rabies is typically transmitted by a bite or scratch from an infected animal. If you are intending to work on farms or work with other animals, we strongly advise you to have the prophylactic anti-Rabies vaccination. As this vaccination involves a series of three vaccinations it is recommended you plan ahead for it.
Meningitis can be viral, fungal or bacterial in nature. Meningitis is caused when the protective membranes (meninges) covering the brain and spinal cord become swollen and inflamed. Symptoms can be similar to those of the common flu. The different types of Meningitis differ in severity and the most serious bacterial form of Meningitis is Meningococcal Meningitis. Meningococcal Meningitis can be fatal. It is transmitted from person to person by direct contact and / through coughing and sneezing. Mencevax can protect you against this form of Meningitis.
The above vaccinations are recommendations only. See your travel doctor get health and vaccination recommendations based on your overall health, age and your travel itinerary. Book your appointment online with the International Travel Vaccination Clinic well in advance of your trip because some vaccines may require a long period to take effect and more than one dose may be required.
OTHER HEALTH RISKS FOR AFRICAN COUNTRIES
Other health risks when travelling in Africa may be:
Cholera is common in developing countries and is associated with poverty and poor sanitation. Cholera is a severe infectious diarrhoeal disease, caused by the Vibrio cholera bacteria. Untreated, Cholera can result in rapid dehydration and death. Cholera is most commonly spread through the ingestion of food and water that is contaminated by infected human faeces. The risk of getting Cholera can be significantly minimized by following proper sanitary practices and by following the rules of eating and drinking safely. Oral vaccines for Cholera are available if required.
Depending on your destination and how long you are travelling for, Malaria medications may be recommended. Malaria prevention is based on two defences:
Oral prophylaxis medication
Personal protection against mosquitoes.
It is best to consult your travel doctor for advice on the best Malaria medication based on your trip as Malaria is widespread and some strains of Malaria are chloro-quine resistant.
African Sleeping Sickness occurs in 36 sub-Saharan African countries. The disease, known technically as human African trypanosomiasis, is a parasitic disease transmitted by the tsetse fly (who has acquired its infection from humans or animals harbouring human pathogenic parasites). The disease is treatable, but prevention is your best option. Follow the tips for preventing insect bites advice to help avoid being bitten.
Bilharzia, also called ‘snail sickness’ or Schistosomiasis, is a parasitic disease transmitted by contact with contaminated freshwater (lakes, ponds, rivers and dams) which is inhabited by snails infected with one of five varieties of the parasite Schistosoma. You risk contracting the disease by swimming, bathing, fishing and washing your clothes in contaminated water. To avoid infection:
Avoid swimming or bathing in freshwater. The ocean or chlorinated water should be safe. Water held in a water tank for longer than a day should be safe.
Boil your bathing water for more than a minute and then allow to cool before bathing to avoid scalding.
Drink safe water.
If you have had contact with contaminated water overseas see your health practitioner on your return for testing and treatment if required.
Remember, cleaning your hands often using either soap and water or waterless, alcohol-based hand rubs removes potentially infectious materials from your skin and helps prevent disease transmission.