Friday, June 5, 2009

South Africa: Stay Healthy on vacation!

Getting ready for any trip takes months and weeks of research, planning and packing. While preparing all the activities, transportation, documentation and securing loose ends while you’re are away, don’t forget to prepare your health for the visit too! It is important to make the most of your trip by participating in all pre-planned activities rather than experiencing South Africa from the tent or a local medical center; so be safe, vaccinate!

Planning to stay healthy while you travel is the MOST important part of planning for your trip.

The best ways to ensure a safe and healthy trip are to be educated about the health risks in South Africa and get vaccinated.

For travel to South Africa, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends the following vaccinations:

Hepatitis A and B
Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis
Rabies
Influenza
Measles/Mumps/Rubella
Varicella (Chicken Pox)
Typhoid
Polio
Pneumococcal
Yellow Fever
• PPD Test

Most of these vaccinations are routine for citizens of the USA and you have more than likely been adequately vaccinated for some, but it is important to see a travel medicine specialist to be sure you are prepared with the proper vaccinations and information to stay healthy in South Africa.

  • Now that you know about all the diseases and viruses that have preventive vaccines, you are free to take other preventive measures for the rest of the "icky" things that can affect your trip.
  • Insect-Borne Diseases(Dengue Fever, Malaria, African Sleeping Sickness, Leishmaniasis, Typhus/Rickettsial infections, etc): use appropriate repellents containing DEET, and prescribed Malaria medication.
  • Travelers' Diarrhea: use antibiotics and re hydration powders (diarrhea kit available at Passport Health)
  • Intestinal Infections: Swim only in properly chlorinated or salt water, wear shoes at all times (even on the beach), follow food and water precautions given by an expert.
  • Jet-Lag, Motion sickness, Altitude sickness: several different medications available
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis: Remain properly hydrated during flight, get up frequently to stretch your legs to maintain circulation, consider wearing pressure gradient Travel Socks
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation: Obtain appropriate Travel and Evacuation Insurance
Don't let the possibility of getting sick in South Africa deter you from going. The best way to ensure safety and good health is to know the risks and take the right precautions against them.

Thank you to the CDC and our Travel Medicine Specialists for their contribution to this post.

Have you or anyone you know ever taken an overseas trip and found yourself unprepared? What happened and what did you do?

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