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Safari Health Information


Most travelers to East and South Africa do quite well and never get sick. It is advisable, however, to make sure and take an anti-malarial medication to protect yourself against Malaria. While on safari, we will not be spending much time in rural areas so the risk of disease is extremely low. It is always advisable to visit your own doctor at least two or three months before you depart to get his or her recommendations.

Health Requirements and Notes

Important Notes
Any traveler with physical disabilities or medical requirements should advise Denise Bonnell at Safari-Girl African Safaris at the time of booking.

Please remember that Safari-Girl African Safaris is a tour operator and is in no way authorized to prescribe any inoculations or medications; we can only recommend precautions. Recommendations and requirements can change, sometimes on short notice.


  • Check with your local immunization clinic, public health facility, or personal physician to find out what immunizations are required and/or suggested for your overseas journey; if possible, around six weeks prior to departure.
  • It is especially important to check yellow fever vaccination requirements in advance, as many countries have very strict rules regarding this inoculation. If your travel itinerary requires you to have a yellow fever vaccination, you must ask your doctor to provide you with an “International Certificate of Vaccination,” which should be carried with you at all times while traveling to serve as proof that you have fulfilled the vaccination requirement.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (the “CDC”) in Atlanta operates a 24-hour recorded “International Traveler’s Hotline.” You can access the “Hotline” by phoning toll-free 1-800-232-4636. Information can be mailed or faxed to you. You can also access the same information on the CDC website at
  • Vaccines commonly recommended for travel will vary by region and activity but may include: tetanus, diphtheria, polio, gamma globulin, typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever, and meningitis.
  • Cholera inoculation, which is given in pill form, is not available in the U.S. If a country requires inoculation, your health care professional will need to provide a letter on official stationery stating that cholera has not been found in your country of origin. You may also receive a “Cholera Not Indicated” stamp in your yellow vaccination booklet.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) progressively damages the immune system allowing life-threatening conditions to develop, including late stage Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). HIV can be transmitted through exchange of bodily fluids, including medical procedures such as blood transfusions for which there may not be adequate screening techniques in place. HIV is not transmitted through casual contact, air, food, water, contact with inanimate objects, mosquitoes, or insects of any kind. The use of public transportation does not pose a risk of infection. HIV and AIDS occur worldwide but are more prevalent in some areas. The risk of HIV infection for international travelers is low unless engaging in behaviors that put one at risk for infection. For more information see (

Bilharzia, also known as “snail fever” or schistosomiasis, is a parasitic disease caused by several species of fluke of the genus Schistosoma. It is found in most rivers and lakes in Africa, as well as Asia and South America, especially in areas with water contaminated by freshwater snails, which carry the parasite.

  • Avoid slow moving water, areas close to reeds, and swimming, wading, or walking barefoot along the shore unless you know for certain the area is bilharzia free.
  • Fast moving water usually poses less risk than stagnant water but can still be a problem, and even deep water can contain the carriers. Swimming pools that are well-chlorinated and maintained are safe. Bilharzia does not exist in salt water.

Malaria is caused by certain mosquitoes, and protective measures should be taken to avoid mosquito bites. The malarial mosquitoes are most active (but not limited to) the hours between dusk and dawn. Please see the additional information included for more details on malaria and where it can be found.

Tsetse Flies
The tsetse fly is an insect similar in size to the common house fly but featuring a proboscis that is used to feeding on the blood of mammals. This insect is known for transmitting African sleeping sickness to humans and a disease known as Nagana to domesticated livestock. They are found only in Africa, mainly across the central portion of the continent between the Sahara and Kalahari. In areas where tsetse flies are prevalent, you should use 100% DEET spray if possible, and also avoid wearing bright or dark blue colors, as the flies are attracted to these hues. Long sleeved shirts and pants of medium-weight material will also help protect against them.

Other Insect-borne Diseases
In addition to malaria and African sleeping sickness, there are a number of other diseases by insects (known as “vector-borne diseases”) that travelers can encounter. Many of these are spread by the mosquito, but other insects to be aware of include chiggers, ticks, biting flies, fleas, lice, and mites.

It is important to take appropriate precautions, including the use of insect repellent and mosquito netting and wearing long sleeves and pants when out of doors to limit skin exposure. Visit the travel section of ( to learn more about vector-borne diseases.

Health Tips
It is suggested that you assemble a traveler’s medical kit appropriate to your destination, length of trip, and general health. Your physician can advise you on specific items to include (such as remedies for minor stomach ailments or motion sickness).

Traveling with medication

  • Travelers should bring their own prescription drugs for personal conditions. These should be carried in your hand luggage and left in the original labeled containers only. If possible, a copy of the prescription should be carried with you.
  • If you are diabetic, in the wake of September 11, there are tighter security measures at airports. Airline security officials now require diabetics to bring all of their medicinal items in original pharmacy packaging with pre-printed labels. You should save all of your original packaging in order to be well-prepared when you take your plane trip.
  • If you use an insulin pump, be ready to answer questions about it and be able to demonstrate how it operates to airline security.
  • It is advisable that you also carry a letter from your doctor saying that you need supplies such as insulin syringes or lancets.

Food and Water Precautions

  • Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Uncooked, undercooked, partially cooked or reheated meat, fish, eggs, and raw vegetables should be avoided. Peel fruit yourself. Exercise caution in eating foods that can spoil from lack of refrigeration such as salads containing mayonnaise, heavy cream, and dairy products.
  • In most areas decaf coffee or tea, diet sodas, and sugar substitutes may not be available, so you might want to bring some packets with you.
  • Tap water is generally safe in many of the larger cities, but whenever possible it is recommended you drink bottled water only. Outside of cities, it is recommended that you brush your teeth with bottled water. Exercise caution when using water that is provided in containers such as flasks or thermoses that are offered in camps, lodges, and hotels. It is usually safer to drink a beverage from a bottle or can. Be cautious when accepting ice in drinks.
  • Bottled water is available for purchase in most hotels, camps, and lodges and is provided on all game drives. Make sure the cap on bottled liquids is removed in your presence.
  • To avoid dehydration, especially in hot or desert climates or on very active excursions, make an effort to drink more water than you normally do, even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Sports bars, dried fruit, trail mix, and other snack foods can be very handy on long days or if local food does not satisfy your palate. (Chocolate is not a good choice as it melts.)
  • Every effort will be made to cater to special dietary requirements with advance notification.
  • Wash your hands every chance you get. This will help prevent many bacterial and viral infections.


Malaria Prevention and Notes

Adapted from the CDC ( 1-877-394-8747

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die. This sometimes fatal disease can be prevented and cured. Bed nets, insecticides, and anti-malarial drugs are effective tools to fight malaria in areas where it is transmitted. Travelers to a malaria-risk area should avoid mosquito bites and take a preventive anti-malaria drug.

Malaria is transmitted in large areas of Central and South American, the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic, Africa, Asia (including the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East), Eastern Europe, and the South Pacific.

Levels of Prevention
Prevention of malaria can aim at either:

  • Preventing infection by avoiding bites by parasite-carrying mosquitoes, or
  • Preventing disease, by using anti-malarial drugs as a prophylactic. The drugs do not prevent initial infection through a mosquito bite, but they prevent the development of malaria parasites in the blood, which are the forms that cause disease. This type of prevention is also called “suppression.”

Prevention and Control in Endemic Areas
Prevention is an important component of malaria control in endemic countries. Travelers from non-endemic countries should take precautions against acquiring malaria when they visit a malaria-risk area.

It is achieved through:

  • Vector control: Vector control aims to decrease contacts between humans and vectors of human disease. Control of mosquitoes may prevent malaria as well as several other mosquito-borne diseases.

  • Personal protection measures, such as insecticide-treated bed nets
  • Preventive treatment with anti-malarial drugs.

Anti-malarial Drug Information
Travelers to areas with malaria risk in Africa, South America, the Indian Subcontinent, Tajikistan, Asia, and the South Pacific should take one of the following anti-malarial drugs (listed alphabetically):

  • Atovaquone/proguanil
  • Doxycycline
  • Mefloquine (not recommended by Safari-Girl African Safaris)
  • Primaquine (in special circumstances

Additional Information – Malaria Prophylactics

  • It is recommended that you see your doctor and obtain preventive malaria treatment appropriate for the country and time of year you are traveling.
  • Consult your doctor early, as some drugs must be taken two to four weeks prior to arrival in a malaria-affected area.
  • The most suitable choice of medication depends on many individual advantages and disadvantages of each option. Some anti-malarials have serious side effects and reactions. Your doctor can advise you of the most suitable drug for you.
  • Though I cannot recommend what medications you take, I strongly advise against taking Lariam (mefloquine hydrochloride) due to psychological and neurological side effects.
  • Most clients take Malarone (atovaquone) for malaria prevention in Africa.

Malaria Prevention Abroad

  • Take your malaria prophylactic medication exactly as directed. Most cases of traveler’s malaria occur when travelers stop taking anti-malarial drugs as soon as they get home. Do not change or discontinue your medication without skilled professional advice.
  • Often mosquito repellent spray, lotion, nets, etc. are provided at accommodations on my itineraries.
  • Use bug repellent on all exposed skin while on safari or outdoors. It is recommended that you bring insect repellent that contains at least 35% DEET.

Health Information for Travelers to East Africa
(from the CDC – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website)

 Vaccines for your Protection

See your doctor at least 4-8 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect. 

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to East Africa.  Discuss your travel plans and personal health with your doctor to determine which vaccines you will need.

Hepatitis A or immune globulin.  Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.

Hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment.

Malaria – your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa, including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug.  For details concerning risk and preventive medications, see Malaria Information for Travelers to East Africa.     

Meningococcal (meningitis) – If you plan to visit countries in East Africa that experience epidemics of this disease, this inoculation is highly recommended.

Typhoid vaccine -  Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. 

Yellow Fever – a viral disease that occurs primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Yellow Fever is required to cross the border into Tanzania.

As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. 

Malaria – Malaria is a serious disease and may be deadly illness.  Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite.  Your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in East Africa, including cities.  All travelers to East Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of East Africa, may be at risk for malaria.  Prevent this serious disease by seeing your doctor for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites.  All travelers should take one of the following drugs:

  • atovaquone/proquanil (Malarone) – (highly recommended)

  • doxycycline

  • mefloquine (Lariam)

  • primaquine (in special circumstances)



  • Long-sleeved shirt and long pants to wear in evening hours to help prevent mosquito bites (especially in lower altitudes). 

  • Insect repellent containing DEET.

  • Sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat for protection from harmful effects of UV sun rays.

  • Prescription medications: make sure you have enough to last during your trip, and a little extra.

  • Always carry medications in their original containers, in your carry-on luggage.

  • Be sure to bring along over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication and an antibiotic prescribed by your doctor to self-treat moderate to severe diarrhea.

  • New security measures were implemented on August 10, 2006, regarding what passengers may carry onto the airplane.  Up-to-date information may be obtained at the Transportation Security Administration’s Guidance for Airline Passengers Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions.


Travelers should take the following precautions

To stay healthy, do....

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, or if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub (e.g. Purell).

  • In developing countries, drink only bottled water or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles.  Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.

  • Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed (keep with your other medications in your carry-on).

  • To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.

  • Protect yourself from mosquito insect bites:

    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when outdoors.

    • Use insect repellents that contain DEET (N, N-diethylmethyltoluamide). For more information about insect repellents and correct use, go to What you Need to Know about Mosquito Repellent on the CDD West Nile Viris website.

Do not....

  • Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e. hepatitis A or typhoid fever).

  • Do not drink beverages with ice.

  • Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.

  • Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis.

  • Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague).

  • Do not share needles for tattos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV or hepatitis B

  • Avoid poultry farms, bird markets, and other places where live poultry is raised or kept.

After you Return Home

If you have visited a malaria-risk area, continue taking your antimalarial drug for 4 weeks (melflquine or doxycycline) or seven days (atovaquone/proguanil) after leaving the risk area.  Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to one year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell your doctor your travel history.



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