What Health Precautions Do I need To Take When Visiting Africa?

That’s a great question! However, there are a few basic health matters that require care and attention if you plan on visiting Ghana or any part of the Africa continent. Here are a few guidelines for you to address with your general practitioner or your doctor. Please also check with your health department prior to departure for any changes in health regulations. Your African tour operator will also be able to inform you.

a) Malaria
As most southern and eastern Africa safari destinations do have occurrences of malaria, a lot of the camps are quite remote and the chances of contracting malaria are low. However, it is definitely worth taking preventative steps. Both chloroquine resistant and normal strains of malaria are prevalent in Africa. Malaria is transmitted by a very small percentage of female Anopheles mosquitoes. They are generally active in the early evening and throughout the night, usually when one is sleeping or sitting around campfires. Expert opinion differs regarding the best approach to malaria prophylactics. It is important to bear in mind that malaria may be contracted despite taking tablets, especially in areas where chloroquine resistance has been reported.

Please remember that the best insurance against contracting malaria is to try to prevent being bitten, so use mosquito repellents liberally. Wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers/slacks in the evenings. You should spray your room prior going to dinner with an insecticide like Doom which will kill any mosquitoes that may have flown into your room. Mosquito coils are also effective. We do suggest you contact your own doctor prior to leaving for your African holiday, to advise him/her of where you will be travelling and let him/her prescribe the best suited prophylactic. If you become ill on your return, while still on prophylactics or even once you have stopped, make sure that your doctor does everything necessary to establish that your illness is not malaria. Malaria is not a serious problem if people take basic precautions. If caught early on the disease can be effectively dealt with.

b) Water
It is very important that you drink plenty of water especially if you travel to Africa during the warmer months. Dehydration is possibly the single biggest cause of ill health on an Africa safari. It is generally recommended that guests drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water per day to limit the effects of dehydration. This excludes tea, coffee and alcoholic beverages, which act as diuretics and actually contribute to dehydration. If water is not fit for human consumption then the lodge or hotel will advise guests and supply drinking water, but bottled mineral water is readily available at most places anyway.

c) Bilharzia
Bilharzia is a disease, which is common in most large bodies of water in the southern half of Africa. In the unlikely event of bilharzia being contracted, it is easily diagnosed by a simple blood test and easily and effectively treated with biltracide. We recommend a test is taken after any African holiday, where you may have swam or drank water from rivers or lakes.

d)Tsetse Flies
Tsetse flies are large day time feeding flies occurring in certain low lying and hot safaris areas such the Zambezi Valley in Zimbabwe or the Okavango Delta in Botswana. They prefer shady conditions and are attracted to movement, carbon dioxide and lactic acid secretions. We advise that you wear light colored lightweight clothing on your Africa safari. Avoid deep blue and black (as tsetse are attracted to these colors) to lessen the chance of being bitten by these flies.