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I do Africa - Health tips when travelling in Africa

In all honesty, from previous travels and experiences on this continent I can tell you that most people get off with nothing more than the occasional stomach bug.

None the less we did some research on the basics, and it turns out there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

1. General health tips when travelling in Africa

This includes things like contact lenses and eyes, ears, skin  and teeth.  Healthy teeth are especially important and I have taken care of any pearlys that might create problems.
And skin = sun block = all the time!! Enough said.

I have also made peace with the fact that I might pick up some weight during this trip but luckily in Africa you are always just one stomach bug away from losing a couple of kilo's.
Funny, but it is actually no laughing matter so we will carry medication and rehydration kits with us.

We will also complete a first aid training course before we leave and carry a small first aid kit.

2. Contraceptive - another important aspect that I had to take care of before the trip

I knew from the word go that returning from our honeymoon, jobless, penniless and with a baby, might pose a bit of a problem, so I settled for the Mirena. It might not be every women's cup of tea, but for the duration of our trip (and up to 5 years) I don't have to carry with me, remember, look for or worry about anything. It is very hassle free.

3. Vaccinations when travelling in Africa

Many countries require vaccinations but luckily most of them last quite a while and I have already gotten the important shots because of previous travels in Africa.

Getting them all at once can be quite expensive!  Apart from meningitis, tetanus, yellow fever, hepatitis, and cholera we decided on getting a rabies shot.  This shot isn't cheap  and it isn't a requirement but my fiancé is of the impression that he'd rather not spend his honeymoon with a bitch (tongue in cheek).

Travel clinics will give you any information you need so just give them a shout.

4. Those strange African diseases you hope to never contract

Africa seems to be crawling with all sorts of bugs and diseases and flesh eating worms... ok, I might be over exaggerating a bit! Most of these, we won't catch but it is good to know of them.  Leprosy still exists and we might encounter anything from avian influenza to viral haemorrhagic fevers. But the chances are slim.

I can overlook all the scary illnesses but there is one tiny thing that completely rocks my boat (apart from malaria, Africa's biggest killer) ... all the various worms.

Photo: The Guinea worm

Yes, there is the Guinea worm, which can grow up to a meter long, develops deep in your body tissue and once matured, moves towards the skin, creating an ulcer to release larvae from.  Getting rid of it? Well that's easy. You simply pull the worm out a little way, attach it to a sterile piece of wood and then gently draw it out by rolling it around the stick bit by bit for days on end. The process can take up to two weeks! More on the Guinea worm in this video:

And then there is Loa Loa, a parasitical worm spread via the mango fly which happily roams in the skin for many years. Occasionally the worm migrates across the surface of the eye ... which is pretty scary.

Luckily neither of them are fatal and will cause only some symptoms and repulsion at most.

We thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the disgusting worms and bugs and illnesses - and having ticked "health" off the list we are now another step closer to the start of our adventure.

Dorette Marais

Dorette Marais Title: Blog Contributor
Affiliation: Drive South Africa Blog Dorette Marais has a degree in journalism and a postgraduate degree in media. As a child she lived in the Kruger National Park, ran away to Spain for a gap year and dabbled with the idea academics before she braved the world of online media. After a couple of years working for publications like Pasella, Nuus24 and Beeld she decided to leave everything behind to fulfil a lifelong dream of travelling Africa for an extended period of time. This journey will also be her honeymoon, a recipe for interesting stories and events.
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