how to not get sick on safari

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Jan 2nd, 2016, 10:23 AM
  #1
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how to not get sick on safari

so we have finally booked our july 2017 kenyan family safari. saw friends last night and they said it is almost impossible not to get sick from water issues. i know we will brush our teeth with bottled water but they said water gets in your mouth during showers etc.

any words of advice?
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 10:37 AM
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What safari lodges did your friends go to? Where are you going?

Although I did not have time to comment, I noticed your various posts when you were planning your trip. The lodges you were consider are all sanitary places and the water will be fine. They will tell you the protocol when you arrive at each lodge on if/if-not to drink the water, use bottles, etc.

I think the bigger issue is that your stomach does not have, on arrival, the enzymes to fully handle the slightly different foods you eat in Africa. I am an engineer not a doctor so enzyme might be the wrong word but I am talking about the bacteria in your stomach that breaks down food. A lettuce leaf in the US is not the same as one in Kenya. Your stomach takes a few days to adjust and you may have minor issues during this period. One thing you can do is switch to a more organic and plant based diet before leaving the US and get off the processed foods and junk foods. This might make the adjustment easier.

In general, I think the food in Africa holds a much higher level nutrients. My hair and nails always grow MUCH faster in Africa.

If you are staying in dodgy hotels, perhaps stick to meat, rice and potatoes but you did not mention any on your other posts.

Craig Beal - owner - Travel Beyond
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 02:53 PM
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Craig, that makes me feel much better. Our friends went on a very high end Kenya Tanzania safari but about 15 years ago. They made it sound like Mexico-don't eat fruit or veggies that were washed in water etc.

We finalized on Sosian, Kicheche Laikipia and Kicheche Mara.

Thanks again and Happy New Year.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 04:20 PM
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You're staying at reputable places that won't have lax hygiene standards.


I eat everything at the camps and lodges I go to. They don't want a bunch of sick guests so their standards are high. I've never had a big problem. Sometimes a little runnier stool than normal (pardon the graphicness) but a Pepto takes care of it. However, I always bring Cipro with me in case of more severe problems.

Who knows why your friends got sick? Maybe they brought a bug they brought from home.

My suggestions:

Take probiotics while traveling
Gargle with salt water in the eve
Take some of those Vitamin C tablets
Don't forget your regular vitamins
Consider adding zinc to your vitamins
Wash hands
Take hand sanitizer
Drink plenty of water and protect yourself from sun

If it was a given that you'd get sick every visit, there would not be so many repeat visitors to Eastern and Southern Africa.
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 06:46 PM
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I will take any and all advice. What else do we need besides anti malarial meds? would you recommend we take these in advance to understand how we handle them? do we take probiotic tabs? i usually eat greek yogurt. thanks again all for helping me prepare for something i have waited 23 years for!!
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Jan 2nd, 2016, 11:38 PM
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If you are sensitive to water changes, maybe you will have a problem but I never have (in S Africa and Botswana - haven't been to Kenya yet). I drink tap water. My very sensitive husband takes a Pepto pill every morning and night (even just when we travel out of state!) and since we travel in their winter (May-Sept) we don't take anti-malarials - not suggested in Southern Africa in winter.

The one time my husband took Malarone, he was terribly nauseous. I wish I knew it was unnecessary - unfortunately travel clinics and most doctors don't take seasonality into consideration. So check the side effects for whatever you are prescribed. I don't know if mefloquine and doxycycline are effective for malaria in Kenya, but find out and choose the one with the mildest side effects - and find out if anti-malarials are suggested for July. The entire continent is doing very well eliminating malaria, so check for the latest info before you go.

Don't fret - you will have a great time! I've heard of few people getting sick on safari, so I'm surprised your friends would say that. It's really too bad they put that in your head because it's not generally true. It doesn't even sound like they got sick. Wash your hands a lot, drink bottled water if you are more comfortable with that, bring Pepto pills and check on which malaria meds are effective and if they are necessary where/when you are going. Most of all have fun!
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Jan 3rd, 2016, 07:39 AM
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What else do we need besides anti malarial meds?

You may want to go to an International Travel Clinic. I did before my first Africa trip. I go when my vaccines need updating. Your family doc may not be able to provide all this.

Here's what the CDC says on Kenya:

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinat...ian/none/kenya

My non-medical background comments on their recommendations:

Hep A - get it

Hep B - not necessary for normal travel, needed if you were doing medical work or might exchange bodily fluids

Malaria - Ask the travel clinic about the prophylactic. General consensus is to avoid Larium. Certain malarial drugs are effective and not effective certain places. That's why an International Clinic is best suited to help you with this info over a family doc. I take anti-malaria pills on almost all Africa trips.

(Use insect repellent, especially dusk and dawn. I don't expose my feet and ankles a lot, preferring tennis shoes or boots. Often times, even in the rainy season, I see about 6 mosquitoes the whole time. We have way more at home. No need for that special insect repellent clothing.)

Meningitis (Meningococcal disease) - I got this for Kenya and other destinations.

Rabies - Not needed for your type of trip.

Typhoid - I got this for Kenya and other destinations.

Yellow Fever - If going direct to Kenya from non-yellow fever destination, it is not needed.

I would add make sure your tetanus is up to date.

I get a prescription for Cipro, and rarely use it. The same Cipro pills usually go and come home with me for many trips until past expiration.

I pack Pepto Bismal tables, which work wonders. I also usually pack Imodium, which I would combine with Pepto, prior to resorting to the stronger dosage a Cipro.

Would you recommend we take these in advance to understand how we handle them?

You could get an extra 4-ish day supply of malaria meds to try out at home. Not a bad idea. It was the Larium that had a reputation of bad dreams and altered moods, not so much the other forms of anti-malarial.

But DO get all you vaccines several weeks in advance of your departure to be sure they are in full effect.

do we take probiotic tabs? i usually eat greek yogurt. I don't think you can count on getting Greek yogurt. I take probiotics on trips. Like you, I consume them in my foods at home and I rarely take probiotics at home.

Along with the probiotics recommendation, here is one other hint I'll add, especially for ladies. If you did find you need to take Cipro for several days due to stomach upset, that can mess with your internal flora balance. The unfortunate result can be a yeast infection. Who wants that on safari, when there's no drug store around for a remedy? To counteract the antibiotics, a probiotic is helpful or your doctor can prescribe something to help prevent those antibiotic side effects. I am always prepared to counteract the Cipro I may need to take, and it gives me peace of mind, knowing I have my "pharmacy" along.

+++++But do consult the medical experts, who have up to date info.+++++

----------
"My very sensitive husband takes a Pepto pill every morning and night (even just when we travel out of state!)"


I am envisioning a Pepto pack in the glove compartment just in case your errands cause you to venture too far from home!
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Jan 3rd, 2016, 08:10 AM
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How not to get sick on safari:

Keep your camera battery juiced up so as not to miss that once in a lifetime shot. Now that'll make ya sick!
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Jan 3rd, 2016, 12:42 PM
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We each carry a pack for our meds that go everywhere with us - in my case, even to the grocery store. Pepto is in there! We both take meds that we need to take just to get us through until tomorrow - I guess that's why I don't understand taking meds that are not necessary. The CDC is behind and uses data from US military forces in an area - they aren't just traveling through for a couple of weeks, sleeping under bed nets every night, with bug spray available at all times, in the winter. The CDC also suggests anti-malarials for Cape Town and the Garden Route, where they have eliminated the risk long ago. They don't distinguish between areas or seasons - irresponsible in my opinion. There are risks when taking anti-malarials, in many cases higher risk than not taking them.

In 2011, the year with the most US cases in fifty years, there were 1,925 cases in the U.S. Five people died. There were seasonal peaks - January for cases from Africa (more than half from west Africa) and August for cases from India (for the first time more cases from India than anywhere else). I am willing to take those odds. Especially during dry season. For me, the side effects outweigh the minimal risk. I'm obviously willing to take that risk long term as well - we'll be moving to S Africa in a couple of years to a low risk area. There were fewer malaria cases worldwide than ever before in 2014 - saving millions of lives. Hopefully climate change won't reverse those great results. (Hotter, colder, wetter, drier).

Yes, always talk to a doctor. But our health is our responsibility. Do your research and decide for yourself. Know the signs - with or without the pills you can still get malaria. And with or without the pills you can't donate blood for a year. Donate before you go. It's a good time to update your "childhood" vaccinations and research the other ones you should get.

Really, have fun. If you're like so many of us, you'll be planning your return before you get home.
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Jan 3rd, 2016, 06:00 PM
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totally agree about Probiotic (available at any drug store OTC) and Pepto Bismo as a preventative. Took them everyday in India and survived. I would never drink tap water outside of the US, I don't care how great they say their water is. Always bottled water and as far as water getting in your mouth when you shower, don't sing in the shower! We are heading to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe in 2016 and I know we need Yellow Fever vacs but will also check with CDC for any other updates.
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Jan 4th, 2016, 04:57 AM
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All, thanks for this wealth of info. I feel much better now!
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Jan 4th, 2016, 08:00 AM
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You can avoid these sickness

stomachache stay clean on what ever you eat.

Prefer starch or vegetarian lunch box rather than meat.

All fruits should be clean, wash with safe water or eat only fruits which you can peel.
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Jan 4th, 2016, 09:53 PM
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I've never gotten sick (knock wood) and neither have my kids that have gone with me 4x. I do carry Pepto, Cipro and misc medicines but have never used any of them. I do follow the directions given by the camps. If they tell you their water is filtered and it's okay to brush with it then I will. If they tell you to brush your teeth with bottled water and to not get any in your mouth while showering I don't.

I nearly always go in the dry winter months and seldom use malaria meds then. I always take Malarone with me in case I think I need it once there and I do use it when I should (Rwanda in the rainy season for example). In almost a dozen winter trips I have not seen a dozen mosquitoes. (Except the unscheduled overnight in Entebbe. Man, that airport was full of mossies.)


I did get bitten by a tick and got African tick fever but I'm not counting that (Campi ya Kanzi in Chyulu Hills). The hospital in Nairobi gave me a presciption for doxycyclene. Doxy is also an antimalarial medication and one of the side effects is sensitivity to sunlight. That was certainly true for me. Any exposed skin felt like it was in a toaster oven.

Have a great trip! And plan on NOT getting sick.
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Jan 5th, 2016, 12:51 AM
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Sundowner, ugh! Where does one find these international drs that specialize in what is needed for a safari e.g.: shots etc? So you only take the anti malarial meds if needed? have heard they can be awful w side effects.
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Jan 5th, 2016, 01:21 AM
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"I do follow the directions given by the camps. If they tell you their water is filtered and it's okay to brush with it then I will. If they tell you to brush your teeth with bottled water and to not get any in your mouth while showering I don't."

Exactly!

I also take a little medical kit of over the counter meds for just in case which are rarely used. To reduce the bulk of bottles store them in labeled ziploc bags. In fact if your luggage is a duffel bag ziploc bags make it much easier to see whats inside for all sorts of things than say a cosmetic bag or the like.

Straws to use for bottles or cans that come out of the cooler on game drives.

Brought duct tape wrapped around a pencil and it really saved the day one trip when a strap on my sandal broke.

Another very useful item is a thin cotton scarf or 2 which I wear on a cool morning/evening in the open vehicles. When the weather warms up its used to protect my camera from the dust and then to jazz up an outfit at dinner. But now we're getting into the what to wear discussion which should be a separate thread of its own.

Most breakfasts are a buffet and you'll usually find yogurt albeit maybe not greek but I've had some pretty delicious yogurt in Kenya. I also take echinacea when travelling to boost my immune system.

The decision to take or not to take anti malaria meds is a personal choice that should be made between you and a medical professional and not from advice on a travel forum. I personally always take malarone and have had no side effects other than slightly more vivid dreams. Or then again maybe that lion really was roaring right outside my tent.
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Jan 5th, 2016, 05:06 AM
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I googled "international travel doctor" and my zip code and several popped up. The first time I went I took the advice of the county travel health clinic. I think they had me get shots for anything that could go wrong in all of southern and eastern Africa. They certainly did not know what they were talking about. Of course, I didn't know that until after I followed their advice. No, I did not need Yellow Fever inoculations for Namibia.

The first time I took my kids (age 9 & 11 I think), their pediatrician said malaria meds were not necessary for where we were going at the time we were going. I took maps with me to show her where we were going including a govt map of malaria risk. She had also traveled to malaria risk countries. I do believe that makes a difference, too.

The decision to take or not to take anti malaria meds is a personal choice that should be made between you and a medical professional and not from advice on a travel forum. I agree with this but a little research will help you know questions to ask. I think that because of lawsuits, doctors in the USA have to use a CYA (cover your [email protected]@) approach to medicine and the safest and easiest answer for them is to take the meds.
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Jan 5th, 2016, 06:21 AM
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The decision to take or not to take anti malaria meds is a personal choice that should be made between you and a medical professional and not from advice on a travel forum. I agree with this but a little research will help you know questions to ask. I think that because of lawsuits, doctors in the USA have to use a CYA (cover your [email protected]@) approach to medicine and the safest and easiest answer for them is to take the meds.

Unfortunately I think there is also a monetary incentive to bill for providing more services (vaccinations.)


"Brought duct tape wrapped around a pencil and it really saved the day one trip when a strap on my sandal broke."
Another duct tape pencil wrapper! It takes up hardly any room.
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Jan 5th, 2016, 06:56 AM
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" We are heading to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe in 2016 and I know we need Yellow Fever vacs but will also check with CDC for any other updates."

You do NOT need yellow fever shot for these countries, at least we didn't in September 2015.
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Jan 5th, 2016, 09:01 PM
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DEBitNM thank you. I misread the information I received from our travel company. It stated that "South African and Botswana NO LONGER require YF vaccination for passengers arriving from Zambia." Thanks for causing me to re read it..
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Jan 6th, 2016, 07:11 AM
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there are many immunizations recommended for your trip...as mentioned a "travel clinic" should be consulted. Someone above mentioned a financial incentive to give thee immunizations...that is really not pervasive and most of the shots are thing you should have anyway even in your home country. Never took or probably would take the malarial meds...they are really only needed for a very limited area and probably not in your plans...use caution on those. Also someone above said they drink the tap water.....well that may be good for them but most travelers don't and I would not...bottled water is everywhere and also we eat very simply and don't experiment. Good luck it is a trip of a lifetime...your family will love it.
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