Including a visit to your local travel doctor before you go to Africa will help ensure you protect your health while you are away and increase the chances of coming home healthy.
If you are travelling to African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan and other African countries the following vaccinations are generally recommended;
It 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 immunisations for Tetanus and Diphtheriaand 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 to 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 minimised by following proper sanitary practices and by following the rules of eating and drinking
- 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 mosquitos.
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 chloroquine resistant.
- African Sleeping Sickness
- Bilharzia, also called ‘snail sickness’ or Schistosomiasis, is a parasitic disease transmitted by contact with contaminated fresh water (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 fresh water. 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.
See more Travel Health Advice.
The health-related information and vaccination recommendations on this website are general in nature. Your exact medication, immunisation or travel vaccination needs will vary depending on your personal medical history, vaccination history, current outbreaks and your travel itinerary / destinations. The information here should not replace a personal visit to a travel doctor to get up to date and individualised advice for your trip.
Rabies is characteristically transmitted by the bite or scratch from rabid infected animals.
People who are intending to work in farms and work with other animals are strongly advised to have this prophylactic anti-rabies vaccination. As this vaccination involves a series of three vaccinations it is recommended to plan ahead for this vaccination.
Meningitis is caused by a number of bacteria and virus. Meningococcal meningitis is one of the most serious bacterial diseases and can be fatal. The disease is transmitted from person to person by direct contact and respiratory droplets (coughing and sneezing). Mencevax can protect you against this form of disease.
Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitis, also called meningococcus.
About 10% of people have this type of bacteria in the back of their nose and throat with no signs or symptoms of disease, they are ' carriers'. of the disease following low grade infection
A common outcome of meningococcal infection is meningitis, When caused by Neisseria meningitis bacteria it is known as meningococcal meningitis.
If not diagnosed properly and appropriate immediate treatment implemented, the disease rapidly become fatal.
Neisseria meningitis bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit ,cough, Kissing and sharing the drinks. The bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningococcal disease has been.
Sometimes Neisseria meningitis bacteria spread to people who have had close or lengthy contact with a patient with meningococcal disease example people live in the same household, roommates, or anyone with direct contact with a patient's oral secretions, meaning saliva or spit, (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend) would be considered at increased risk of getting the infection.
Signs and symptoms
When someone has meningococcal meningitis, the protective membranes covering their brain and spinal cord, known as the meninges, become infected and swell.
The symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as
o Photophobia (increased sensitivity to light)
o Altered mental status (confusion)
The symptoms of meningococcal meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3-7 days after exposure.
In newborns and infants, the classic symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to notice. The infant may appear to be slow or inactive, irritable, vomiting or feeding poorly.
Taking appropriate precaution to avoid contact of body secretion from the infected person is paramount importance.
- Wash hand frequently
- Keep the fomites separately
Vaccination best chance of protection against meningococcal meningitis, more so to the Traveller's travelling to densely populated countries like India, Brazil, South East Asia and Mexico.
Central Africa and west Africa consider to be Meningococcal belt , vaccination paramount importance.
People travelling to congregation like carnival in Brazil , Kumba Mela in India And more importantly people travelling to Mecca for Hajj time, meningococcal vaccine with ACWY strain is compulsory and have to carry an appropriate documentation with them.
Traveller travelling to the above places should be aware of taking appropriate strain of meningococcal vaccine.
Meningococcal C strain is only good for Australia.
Traveller should take meningococcal ACWY strain containing vaccine
Travelers to Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam are advised to follow standard health recommendations for that region and, as a precaution, avoid places such as poultry farms and bird markets where live poultry are raised or kept, and avoid contact with sick or dead poultry.
As with other infectious illnesses, one of the most important and appropriate preventive practices is careful and frequent hand washing.
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
Yellow fever mainly spreads from the bite of infected mosquitoes. Travelers are strongly advised to vaccinate against this disease and a vaccination certificate from the approved centre is essential to re-enter the country. As this vaccination cannot be given with some vaccinations, it is best to seek travel vaccination advise well before the departure.