Kenya safari anxiety

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Jun 27th, 2012, 11:32 AM
  #1
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Kenya safari anxiety

I'm going on a Kenya safari in October (Nairobi and Masai Mara) and as it gets closer to it I'm getting more and more anxious. My main concern is health precautions, especially having to be vaccinated against numerous diseases as recommended by CDC: boosters of "regular" vaccines, plus Hepatitis, rabies, typhoid, etc. Further, I'm very susceptible to insect bites, unlike my husband. I know malaria medication and mosquito prevention are a must, but are all vaccines also necessary? We'll be there only 5 days and staying in reputable camps. Are the CDC vaccine recommendations overcautious or should they be followed? Thank you.
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Jun 27th, 2012, 01:14 PM
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Fodors is a wonderful site for advice, but not medical advice. I would suggest you contact your MD with that question.

I will guess your MD will follow the CDC if & when appropriate. If you havent had your boosters, between the shots and boosters you will feel like a pin cushion...but that part of the cost of going on safari
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Jun 27th, 2012, 01:18 PM
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btw: You better call right away, there might be some procedures that require multiple shots spread across several months
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Jun 27th, 2012, 01:58 PM
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Yes, this is not the place for medical advice...but...ask your doc about rabies injection. None of my family, me, and friends who have gone on multiple safari had this shot. The others everybody should have even if staying home IMO.
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Jun 27th, 2012, 02:17 PM
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Well, I'm sure some readers will say I shouldn't, but I feel relatively qualified to advise on this, having been visiting and writing about Kenya for more than 30 years. Partly I feel somewhat qualified because so few general medical practicioners have any idea about health issues in Kenya and frequently go for the belt and braces approach, which fills you with shots you don't need and costs an arm and a leg.

Right: bottom line, you only *need* malaria protection. It's essential.

Otherwise, it's a good idea to be up to date with childhood vaccinations, as you suggest. But you don't need hepatitis, rabies, yellow fever or anything else. And nobody on arrival in Nairobi will have the slightest interest - there's no health inspection for arrivals from Europe or North America.

Have a great trip!
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Jun 27th, 2012, 02:55 PM
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As noted above, none of the vaccinations mentioned is required for entry to Kenya. I agree with RT that it's wise to make sure you're current with the standard shots (e.g., tetanus). I think it's a good idea to get the Hep A jab, not because you're going to Kenya, but because you can get that disease anywhere. CDC generally has a reputation for exaggerating risks, but where rabies and typhoid are concerned I believe those recommendations are for people who will actually handle animals or be in areas where typhoid is prevalent---that won't be the case for Nairobi and the Mara.

With respect to malaria, in addition to taking prophylaxis, spray exposed areas with repellent (if you get a DEET-containing product, you don't need to exceed 30%) at dusk and before dawn. It's especially important to spray around legs and ankles as malaria mosquitoes tend to hunt low.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 03:06 AM
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I would doubel check on Yellow Fever, as certain countries may ask for it when you are leaving Africa.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 07:03 AM
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If you're returning directly back to the US or even stopping over in Europe, you won't need proof of yellow fever vaccine. If you're continuing on to another African country or elsewhere, that country may require it since you'll have been in Kenya which is considered an endemic country.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 07:09 AM
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Thank you for all your responses. I do understand that it's not a medical forum, but I was seeking personal experiences from past travelers. I called a travel clinic and they generally follow CDC recommendations but let the patient make the final decision. I just felt it may be unwarranted to get all these shots if they are not really necessary if I'm staying at reputable camps and only for a few days. Based on your responses I think I will just get malaria prescription, hepatitis and tetanus. Do you think it's sufficient? Also, which DEET products do you recommend? Are there any preferred brands? Shall I spray my skin or clothing? Any special precautions while sleeping at night? Even though the camp is treated, should I spray the tent myself as well? Thank you.
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Jun 28th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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I'll share what the travel docs have told me and my experience as a traveller but not a medical professional.

Rabies--if you are going into caves or where there are packs of dogs. That's not typical of most Kenya safaris. I've encountered neither in Kenya. I never got a rabies shot for Africa, but did for a different kind of trip.

Tetanus--keep that up to date absolutely, even if you stay home.

Hepatitis--Get the A vaccine.

Typhoid--I've gotten the oral vaccine that lasts 5 years, as recommended, but I'm in areas that recommend typhpoid 1-2 times per year.

Malaria--good, take that, even though Oct will likely be dry and you may see no mosquitoes.

Insect spray--I took small bottles that contained DEET, not sure what %. Don't think I ever sprayed myself or clothes. No mosquitoes.

Have a wonderful 5 days!
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Jun 28th, 2012, 02:12 PM
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All of the above, malaria meds, Tetanus and Hep-A (both good for 10/years) and to top that off consider a Polio Booster (this disease is rearing it's ugly head around the world... and good for rest of your life).

Repellent, no higher than 30% Deet. Apply to exposed skin, but not face or rear of neck and do wash off before retiring for bed. If you choose (room attendent can also do this) to spray your room/tent before heading for dinner, be sure not over your bed linens.

Now, you're set to go. Safari njema!
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Jun 28th, 2012, 07:40 PM
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It is rather difficult to recommend a DEET product because there are over 100 of them.

Also some countries have banned a DEET concentration higher than 30%, not because of side effects, but because the government wants a wider margin of safety.

The only advantage of having DEET concentration higher than 30% is that it lasts longer.
( The 30% has a maximum effect for 6 hours.)

Don't spray DEET under your clothing.

( It is rather funny but DEET works by forming a vapour barrier on your skin ,so the insects cannot smell you !!!... and not because they land on you and then do not like the taste of DEET !!

I understand your apprehension about receiving all those vaccinations!!

I cannot really comment on my experience because when I went to Nairobi for my Safari, I already had all my shots and booster from previous travels.

Your MD may or may not follow the CDC guideline.

Besides your Hepatitis A and Malaria medication ,I would take along some Cipro (antibiotic) and some Immodium

You can get Immodium over the counter , but get the "Quick Dissolve " type.

I think I read somewhere that Kenya was asking for proof of Yellow Fever vaccine.

( maybe someone who knows can comment on this )

If it is any comfort to you, I went in the month of August- September and never saw a Mosquito the entire Safari through Kenya and Tanzania!!!!

...but that does not mean don't take malaria pills

If your are going to do more travelling for years in the future , I would slowly get more vaccinations like

Hepatitis B
Typhoid
Yellow Fever

Also I hope your Travel Clinic is Government operated and not a Private Clinic .

The two private Clinics in my city would want you to have every vaccination known to man !
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Jun 29th, 2012, 05:42 AM
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DEET-containing products are widely used but as alluded to above, DEET can be of concern toxicologically. A product with an active ingredient with a lower toxicity profile is Repel HG-406T Lemon Eucalyptus 4-Ounce Insect Repellent Pump Spray. This product can be purchased at Amazon and it is as effective as those products containing DEET. You don't need to be dousing yourself with repellent all day---just after dusk and before dawn.

Percy, I think maybe you read that Tanzania may ask for a YF jab certificate. Kenya does not.
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Jun 29th, 2012, 06:21 AM
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>>"I hope your Travel Clinic is Government operated and not a Private Clinic."<<

Percy - not sure where OP is located (country) or you for that matter, but in the States, if I understand correctly, Travel Clinics are either private or hospital affiliated.

There are Public Health Centers (guess these would be
considered 'gov't') that can offer some of the inocs at lower cost (maybe) and even scripts for malaria meds.
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Jun 29th, 2012, 07:05 AM
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sdb2:

Yes I am sure you are right,it must be Tanzania.

sandi:

I would think that Public Health Centres are run by a government agency.

You pay less there, but the appointment time may be longer, whereas the Private Clinics get you in right away.

I went to a Public Clinic when I went to South America, I waited 2 weeks for an appointment ( but then I had the time to wait 2 weeks before my travel date).

At the Private Clinic it was , " Can you come in tomorrow morning ".

The advice is a "little" different at each Clinic. (hmmm!)
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Jun 29th, 2012, 08:27 AM
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I'm in the US and called my family doctor about my upcoming trip. She referred me to Passport Health because she doesn't provide any travel related services. It was Passport Health which listed almost 10 vaccinations that I may need, which seems a bit overkill for a few days in Africa. Passport Health is a private clinic located throughout the US. My public health department provides only vaccinations to people on government assistance, etc. Any experience with Passport Health?
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Jun 29th, 2012, 11:13 AM
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Ediez, I've never commented on others' doctors but I will here. If, as you say, you will get get a malaria prescription, and hepatitis [A] and tetanus jabs for your trip, then I would be disappointed by my doctor's practice if they farmed me out to a travel practice. The Hep A and tetanus shots are not travel-related services and I would think any practice could provide them. In selecting an antimalarial, which requires some understanding of your medical history (and also in deciding whether you are up to date on the standard shots---tetanus, polio) who is better to know that than your own doctor?

There are primarily 3 antimalarials that are suggested: Lariam, Malarone, and doxycycline. Personally, I would steer clear of Lariam, which can give some significant (as in ruin your trip) psychiatric side effects (and is therefore not prescribed for those with any history of depression). Malarone is taken 1-2 days before hitting a malarious area, every day while in the malarious area and for 7 days after leaving the malarious area. Doxycycline is taken similarly except for 30 days afterwards. Hope some of this helps when you visit your doctor or clinic.
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Jun 30th, 2012, 01:36 PM
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For a Canadian perspective I would not expect my GP to be an expert on what vaccinations are required for all parts of the world I may be travelling to.

Instead I visit our local Travel Clinic who's specialty this is, who has all the up to date information and after a brief medical questionnaire can determine the necessary shots best for me.
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Jun 30th, 2012, 02:16 PM
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As sdb2, Tetanus, Hep-A and probably the Polio booster should be available from any general practioner/internist, and the person who best knows your health history. This doc can also write the script for your malaria meds. No need to even talk to a Travel Clinic, unless you require the Yellow Fever inoculation. This latter jab is often only available from approved providers (travel clinic, hospital), though some individual general practioners may also be able to do so.
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Jul 1st, 2012, 10:26 AM
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Passport Health gave 10 vaccinations? That seems excessive for 5 days in reputable lodges. The more they jab, the more they make.
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