Kenya & Tanzania:Have you gotten sick?

Mar 26th, 2007, 03:23 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Am more concerned about getting ill from eating food from fast food places here in the states than getting sick from eating in East Africa. Like Bill H we have been there 3 times and nary a problem. A bit of common sense plus the lodges and camps do take extra precaution as the last thing they want is a reputation for unhealthy conditions. I think it also helped that prior to eating we always washed hands with wet wipes or something similar. And, used only bottled water for brushing teeth and rinsing. For sure if we were swimming/wading in local waterways, drinking local tap water, etc I would expect to get sick. Just my thoughts. Dick
rsnyder is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 07:25 PM
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I got sick when I was in Tanzania about a month ago, but only because I did something stupid. I ate a sandwich with mayo at 1:30 pm that was made at 6:30am. Now why I thought that was good idea, I have no clue...I wouldn't do that at home. Otherwise, I ate everything (and drank milk) and had no problems.
MonicaH is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 08:36 PM
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When my wife and I went last September we both came down with some sort of flu. It started in Amboseli and hit us hard by the time we crossed into Tanzania. I can probably attribute it to the cold early game drives and my need to pop my head out of the vehicle most of the time. Dress warmly and bring a broad spectrum antibiotic... ask your doctor.
I can't recall which one our doctor prsecribed, probably cipromax, but it is useful for anything from an infection to bad traveller's dihorrhea. It saved us and we were back on our feet in a day or two.
We stayed in mostly Serena properties and Taragire River Camp. The food was great everywhere we went. I'm sure you'll be fine...just bring some precautionary meds in case.
drano is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 05:04 AM
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One more thought;
When one considers the incubation period for flu's/virus's it's usually more likely that one has picked these bugs up in cramped planes rather than out in the field in Africa.

Also, unless one has a completely shot immune system, it's more likely that if you get a flu/virus that it occured from contact with a bug rather than from getting cold.

My point, pay attention to these maladies (take proper preventives or treatments as needed) and keep your hands as clean as you can when traveling.
I have a refillable handsanitizer spray (from CVS) the size of a pen that I now carry when traveling.
cybor is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 05:14 AM
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I'm w/ Cybor - you don't get cold going outdoors with wet hair in the winter or being in cold air. It's a bug that somehow, somewhere got into your system. And the plane is an ideal incubator.

Best thing is to always have clean hands (wash with soap), keep hands away from your face (eyes, nose, mouth); use those sanitizers, but don't overdo as eventually they'll break down your natural ph. Soap is best; sanitizers liquid or towelettes, when water and soap not available.
Mar 27th, 2007, 06:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Just to add my 2 cents on this post. I have just returned from my 1st safari, 13 days No. Tanzania. Stayed in mid-range accomodations, Kampi ya Tembo, Gibbs, Ndutu, Sopa, Kirumuru, The food was way beyond my expectations, toooo delicious. Ate everything... homemade yogurt, papaya, mango, banana, lemon, lime, pineapple, watermelon etc., too much meat (lamb, chicken, pork, beef), lots of great veggies (leek, carrots, green beans, red beans, tomato, avocado, potato, lettuce, etc. etc.) and nary a moment of upset tummy or otherwise. Drank only bottled water and soda water, and don't forget to rinse your toothbrush in bottled water too.

Enjoy and have a great time. I certainly did.
Travelnat is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 06:54 AM
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Oops...I forgot to say that Moist towelettes and Purell hand cleanser were 2 of the most used items I carried.
Travelnat is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 07:03 AM
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I have been to China, Thailand, Indonesia, Kenya, Egypt, etc. All over the world on vacation.

I can honestly say that I get travelers diarrhea every vacation because I eat the local food everywhere I travel. A little pepto and/or immodium and I am good to go in a couple days. The local food is one of the highlights of my travels.
dssxxxx is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 10:11 AM
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Too add, I find I get sick due to the long travel period prior to my arrival. Long flights and airline food (especially the airline food) reak havoc with my insides usually resulting in my loving the toilet for the first day or two after arrival. Also stay well hydrated and pay attnetion to your body.

Quick question for the health professionals on board - my girlfriend was advised for her trip to India last winter to take peptobismol as a prophylactic i.e. sip a bit prior to meals to cao tthe stomach. What's your viewpoint on this measure? I usually eat what I want when I want. My boyfriend on the otherhand not so blessed with resilience.

julimbo is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 01:16 PM
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I spend about 10 weeks out on safari each year, and I seem to have an issue maybe once a year. I never eat salads, and always always always brush my teeth with bottled water. Last time I checked, I think all reputable safari outfitters bring an endless supply of bottled water for their travelers, so there shouldn't be a need to buy a case or two of water on your own. Perhaps a decade ago, but not these days.

always keep your antibiotic of choice handy, as well as immodium. Don't take one without the other at the beginning!

andybiggs is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 05:42 PM
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For me if I take Pepto without a reason, I get constipated.

When a slight intestinal problem begins to surface, it is usually minor enough at first to react well to a couple of Peptos. I've never felt the need to be pre-emptive with Peptos.
atravelynn is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 03:32 AM
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We've done the prophylactic Pepto program recommended by the CDC on all of our SE Asia trips with success. And no constipation. Everyone is different in this regard.

Question for the board: Is there a greater chance of getting TD in Kenya/Tanzania than in Botswana/South Africa? We didn't take any precautions on our Botswana/South Africa trip and were fine.
Ericka is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 04:19 AM
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Ericka -

I believe everyone's system is different, but I've never had any tummy problems regardless where I've traveled. If you didn't have any problem during your Southern Africa safari, it's likely you won't have any problems in East Africa.

As it seems the Pepto worked for you in SEAsia, consider this for any destination, if it gives you peace of mind.
Mar 28th, 2007, 09:40 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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My East and Southern Africa illness from food has been the same. Virtually none.

If severe illness were common, people would not be so enthused to go back again and again. The trip reports would make a bigger deal about how ill people got and the conclusion would be it's not worth the trip. But we don't see that.

atravelynn is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 03:55 PM
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I ate pretty much everything since we stayed at lodges and luxary texts. On the water only bottled for drinking and brushing. However, I did have some stomach problems. Nothing too serious, just took tums pretty much the entire time and immodium on just 2 occations. Since I enjoyed the food it was worth the mild discomfort. However, it is such a delema when you know you should drink extra water (when these things happen), but don't wish to squat behind the vehicle more frequently
VDB is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 10:33 AM
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I had no stomach troubles in Kenya. I only drank bottled water but I ate all of the fruits and vegetables. I had a bottle of Pepto with me but, happily, never broke the seal. I'm so jealous of the people that have gone often. I hope one day I'll get to go back.
Dohlice is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 12:33 PM
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Some of the advice on this thread scares me it's so inaccurate. First off, the infectious organisims in Southeast Asia "are" quite different from those found in Latin America and East and South Africa. SE asia is known for Qunalone resistant strains and anitbiotics other than Cipro are used to treat these nasty guys. As far a Peptobismol is concerned, the active ingrediant Bismuth is sometimes used to prevent TD but there are sideffects and bismuth is not a good idea for people taking certain other very common medications (i.e., aspirin). Even if used prophylactially, it is only about 50% effective so don't count on it even if you think it is safe for you to take. The only medication that is sometimes recommended for prophyaxis is Xifaxan (Rifaxamin), by Salix Pharmaceuticals. Do yourselves a favor and go to their website and read about the clinical trials that followed 400 US college students to Mexico. The results are very impressive. The good thing about Xifaxan (one tablet taken three times daily) is that it is not absorbed from the GI tract as is Cipro. Antibiotic resistance is of much less concern. You can take Xifaxan to treat TD after the fact, similar to Cipro. Cipro is taken twice a day at the prescribed dose. Both medications should only be taken if you have uncomplicated TD, that is no blood in the stool. CDC suggests taking it with an antimotility medication such as imodium. Take the imodium as on the label. If your going to SE Asia, the recommended antibiotic is usually Zithromax (Azithromycin). I'm a doctor, who travels a lot and gets ill just passing a Taco Bell. Like Andy Biggs I do everything right but somehow it happens. So I have made it my subspecialty. I hate to see advice that suggests that just because someone has not had a problem that others will be equally luck. We know today that the amount of stomach acid an indiviual has plays a definite role in their suseptability to TD. Talk to your doctors before you leave and do a bit of legwork. CDC' website is a good place to start and check out Xifaxan, it has been used in Europe for years. It is also ised for chronic IBS (on a long term basis). Hope this is of some help and is straight forward enough to come off clearly.
safarichuck is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 12:34 PM
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OOPS- Quinolones (sp)
safarichuck is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 12:42 PM
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You stated "We know today that the amount of stomach acid an indiviual has plays a definite role in their suseptability to TD."

Would you expand on this? If one is on an acid reducing medication for acid reflux does this make one more likley to get TD?

Bobcaat is offline  
Mar 30th, 2007, 12:55 PM
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Bobcatt, the short answer to your question is yes. If you could stop the medication (eg Prilosec) you might fair better. Even amon people not taking medication there is a great deal of variability in stomach acidity.
safarichuck is offline  

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