Is Africa any more of a health hazard?

Kevin Peacocke

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It was such great news to hear in the thread 'Who Is Coming To Hunt Africa' just how many are coming. There were a few for whom the risks were deemed too high, and that is entirely their choice. I just wanted to glean a few facts to maybe put minds at ease, not so much on covid, but upon the other potential nasties that raise their heads from time to time. So, who of you got malaria? Who dengue? Ebola (gosh I hope not)? Cholera? Other? If you didn't let us know too.

I have lived in Africa all my 66 years and only had malaria once quite mildly. None of the others, but I do take sensible precautions.
 

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I was born in Africa too, and lived there for a few years, then Pakistan and traveled through the Middle East.

No health issues whatsoever, should not be a problem as long as you keep the necessary hygienic precautions.
 

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Is Africa any more of a health hazard?
Than where I live, yes of course. Markedly so.

You have also made reference to an entire continent though.
Yellow Fever
MMR
Rabies
Sleeping Sickness
HIV

At the beginning of the 21st century, infectious diseases remain responsible for about one quarter of deaths worldwide, causing at least 10 million deaths per year, mainly in the tropical countries.
A substantial risk of wildlife zoonotic and vector-borne emerging infectious diseases exists mainly at lower-latitude developing countries such as tropical Africa. Overall, 60% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses, of which 72% are from wildlife.
National Institute of Health


On to the real point of your post.

I have and maintain relevant prophylaxis (vaccinations or otherwise) for anything I have a concern about in the area to be visited. So, no worrisome disease thus far.:A Exam:

Only disease caught, even with preventive measures in place: ATBF. Africa Tick Bite Fever
Got treatment and went on with the hunt.
No idea how the little bastard got through the gaiters, spray etc.

Spiders and or ticks passed on a gift to a friend as well. He got quite sick.

On balance, there is also no risk of me ever hunting Zebra, Nyala, Kudu or the host of other African species at home. So, I'll still get on a plane with my vaccines and gaiters and increase my risks of encountering Kudu, Sitatunga and Buffalo.
 

C.W. Richter

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Visited 6x and never an issue (perhaps increased Vit D absorption!) 'Firmly believe the travel med businesses in America overcook the up-front vaccinations, as we're often hunting in the dry season and not eating rotting bushmeat in the rainforest. Many PHs firmly believe that no vaccinations are really required. Once out of O.R. Tambo, I suspect the risk of COVID declines sharply as you make your way to camp (likely <10 inhabitants far removed from the cities/suburbs.) I live in a fairly rural area and spend weekends in an even more rural area (I know no one who has contracted covid-including people in cities/suburbs and those who traveled via air.)

I would've liked to have visited Africa this year, but likely will not due to a bottleneck in my industry created by covid. Projects were delayed in 2020 and now customers/regulatory agencies want them all done at the same time in 2021. It's a problem of prosperity-all work and no play. Otherwise, I have no issue traveling to a place which in all likelihood is safer than most more developed, more populous nations!
 
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I think it is best to be careful wherever you go. Africa requires some precautions. However, the question could also be asked as: "Do you feel safe traveling to the USA? Especially with the riots in various cities including the capitol." I had a conversation with a fellow i know in Uganda when Ebola was spreading and beginning to leak across the border into Uganda. The summary of our conversation is that as long as you follow your hosts advice and follow their directions, you'll be fine. Your host is familiar with what is going on in the country and will ensure you avoid the problem areas. For example: If I were hosting someone from another country, I'd ensure we did not go to where any demonstrations were going to be held (peaceful or otherwise). If you travel without a host (I've done both) then you'd best do good research on all aspects of your destination (geographical, political, economic, climate, etc.) and be prepared for contingencies.
 

Happy Myles

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I strongly recommend paying for of one of the services like Global Rescue or Med Jet. Over the decades frequenting Africa i have needed medical attention twice. Once in Windhoek, Namibia i was patched up by a wonderful German doctor after i was mauled by a leopard. Then spent the night in a luxurious hotel. However, another time i had a stomach blockage and spent a nightmare four days in a horrible hospital in Kampala, Uganda. The doctors had no ideas what was wrong with me. Global Rescue would have whisked me home.
 

mark-hunter

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Been to Africa nuomeros times (and twice on safari), never had a health problem. Been sailing in wouri river (Cameroon) many times, few consecutiv years, malaric areas. Never a problem.

Been vaccinated against yellow fever.
On safari - Using thick repelent on the clothes. Using mosquito rep, on th skin in mosquito areas.. In africa - always wearing long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes, which I beleive helps against insect bytes. For HIV prevention, strictly avoiding... hmmm.... risky contacts...
 

Kevin Peacocke

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I strongly recommend paying for of one of the services like Global Rescue or Med Jet. Over the decades frequenting Africa i have needed medical attention twice. Once in Windhoek, Namibia i was patched up by a wonderful German doctor after i was mauled by a leopard. Then spent the night in a luxurious hotel. However, another time i had a stomach blockage and spent a nightmare four days in a horrible hospital in Kampala, Uganda. The doctors had no ideas what was wrong with me. Global Rescue would have whisked me home.
Happy Myles, did you write up the leopard story?
 

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I’m more concerned about catching some bug going thru the airports and on the planes going to and from Africa than when I get there. I do purchase Global Rescue for that reason and in case I screw up on a hunt. In my mind airplanes and airports are the world’s Petri dishes.
 

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LOL. I have a friend who teaches at Johns Hopkins Medical School and he is horrified whenever he sees my photographs of wading in the swamps of the Zambezi Delta. No parasites smaller than a leach (some of those were the size of small water moccasins! :oops:) to date, though my left leg blew up as a result of razor grass cuts marinating in that stew. Fortunately, an antibiotic knocked it out over night.
Zambezi Delta

razor grass results - Zambezi Delta

I have never really become sick on the African continent. But, as @BRICKBURN notes, the chances are indeed more likely there than in North America. Pay attention to the vaccination recommendations and take the shots. Take an anti-malarial if it is recommended. It is cool to be a tough guy behind the keyboard, but neither malaria nor typhoid are anything to play around with at the age of most of my fellow correspondents on this site. I have had Shagala twice - once in northern Saudi Arabia and once on a return trip from India. You do not want it, and if you get it, you want a gorillacillin at hand.

Bring a good general purpose anti-biotic with you whenever and wherever you travel abroad. All it takes is one guy with dirty hands shredding the lettuce to make your day.
 

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I’m not sure the risk is medical as much as not being able to return home indefinitely due to a positive covid test, changing flight schedules, shut downs, not being allowed to return to work an extended time, etc

So far, I’ve never been sick in Africa. Maybe only on the last day, but I think that has been more mental than physical.
 

Kevin Peacocke

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Most households here keep a course of malaria cure on hand, the likes of coartem, it is available over the counter. The idea is if you show any of the symptoms, just take it. By the time they have fiddled around with the test you are likely into phase 2, ie very sick indeed. I never travel without a course, especially overseas where they arent familiar with tropical diseases. Just in case.
 

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LOL. I have a friend who teaches at Johns Hopkins Medical School and he is horrified whenever he sees my photographs of wading in the swamps of the Zambezi Delta. No parasites smaller than a leach (some of those were the size of small water moccasins! :oops:) to date, though my left leg blew up as a result of razor grass cuts marinating in that stew. Fortunately, an antibiotic knocked it out over night.
Zambezi Delta

razor grass results - Zambezi Delta

I have never really become sick on the African continent. But, as @BRICKBURN notes, the chances are indeed more likely there than in North America. Pay attention to the vaccination recommendations and take the shots. Take an anti-malarial if it is recommended. It is cool to be a tough guy behind the keyboard, but neither malaria nor typhoid are anything to play around with at the age of most of my fellow correspondents on this site. I have had Shagala twice - once in northern Saudi Arabia and once on a return trip from India. You do not want it, and if you get it, you want a gorillacillin at hand.

Bring a good general purpose anti-biotic with you whenever and wherever you travel abroad. All it takes is one guy with dirty hands shredding the lettuce to make your day.
Do you think if you had been taking doxycycline as anti-malaria it would have prevented your problems or too weak a dose? I’ve only taken doxycycline because of ease of availability in USA, but also my Dad had an extreme bad reaction to a anti-malaria drug his first trip many years ago, absolutely ruined his trip with nightmares, night sweats, bad thoughts, etc, so I’ve been nervous to take anything else.
 

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That would have been Lariam (spelling?), worse than magic mushrooms.
I believe so, I didn’t want to write it because not 100% sure. If I remember right though one pill covered the whole trip so once it was in your system it was there until it’s gone. Glad there are much better options now.
 

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Is Africa any more of a health hazard?
Than where I live, yes of course. Markedly so.

You have also made reference to an entire continent though.
Yellow Fever
MMR
Rabies
Sleeping Sickness
HIV

At the beginning of the 21st century, infectious diseases remain responsible for about one quarter of deaths worldwide, causing at least 10 million deaths per year, mainly in the tropical countries.
A substantial risk of wildlife zoonotic and vector-borne emerging infectious diseases exists mainly at lower-latitude developing countries such as tropical Africa. Overall, 60% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses, of which 72% are from wildlife.
National Institute of Health


On to the real point of your post.

I have and maintain relevant prophylaxis (vaccinations or otherwise) for anything I have a concern about in the area to be visited. So, no worrisome disease thus far.:A Exam:

Only disease caught, even with preventive measures in place: ATBF. Africa Tick Bite Fever
Got treatment and went on with the hunt.
No idea how the little bastard got through the gaiters, spray etc.

Spiders and or ticks passed on a gift to a friend as well. He got quite sick.

On balance, there is also no risk of me ever hunting Zebra, Nyala, Kudu or the host of other African species at home. So, I'll still get on a plane with my vaccines and gaiters and increase my risks of encountering Kudu, Sitatunga and Buffalo.
I was blessed as well with the Africa Tick Bite Fever. :Shifty: Took about a week to feel "normal" agian.
 

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Do you think if you had been taking doxycycline as anti-malaria it would have prevented your problems or too weak a dose? I’ve only taken doxycycline because of ease of availability in USA, but also my Dad had an extreme bad reaction to a anti-malaria drug his first trip many years ago, absolutely ruined his trip with nightmares, night sweats, bad thoughts, etc, so I’ve been nervous to take anything else.
Not sure what you mean. An anti-malarial, and I always take them, is good for malaria. Shagala is a form of dysentery and can’t really be prevented other than through good sanitation. Regrettably, not just yours. Once you get it, a quick blast of an antibiotic like Ciprofloxacin is essential.
 

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Do you think if you had been taking doxycycline as anti-malaria it would have prevented your problems or too weak a dose? I’ve only taken doxycycline because of ease of availability in USA, but also my Dad had an extreme bad reaction to a anti-malaria drug his first trip many years ago, absolutely ruined his trip with nightmares, night sweats, bad thoughts, etc, so I’ve been nervous to take anything else.


Doxycycline is a pretty broad spectrum bug killer and probably would have helped or prevented Mr. Leg's leg issues. One issue with it in Africa is the potential side effect of light sensitivity. It would also probably prevent issues with Shigella.
 

375Fox

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Not sure what you mean. An anti-malarial, and I always take them, is good for malaria. Shagala is a form of dysentery and can’t really be prevented other than through good sanitation. Regrettably, not just yours. Once you get it, a quick blast of an antibiotic like Ciprofloxacin is essential.
I was thinking your cuts in Mozambique. Chukar answered my question below yours. Doxycycline is an antibiotic but also malaria prevention.
 

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