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Sabuk question..Has anyone gone swimming in the river?

Sabuk question..Has anyone gone swimming in the river?

Aug 29th, 2006, 06:20 PM
  #1  
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Sabuk question..Has anyone gone swimming in the river?

I went to the travel doctor today and they urged me not to go swimming in any water because of the risk of schistosomiasis or other water borne risks. In the brochure for Sabuk they list it as one of the activities, so it leads me to believe that it is relatively safe. Does anyone have any experience with this? Sabuk is part of a reasonably large safari company, so I would guess they would not want people getting sick and finding out when they got home it was from their lodge. The travel doctor also told me that we should stay away from all salads etc., anything that we could not peel ourselves. Are they just being overly cautious, or am I just being too risky and/or naive?
Thanks.
HLester3 is offline  
Aug 29th, 2006, 11:35 PM
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Nobody wants to be responsible for anything that might happen but .....

"Fresh water becomes contaminated by Schistosoma eggs when infected people urinate or defecate in the water"

Just what kind of tourist does your doctor think they get up at Sabuk? ;-)

I would also personally not insist on peeling my salad tomatoes while there.

Seriously, the advice is good, but it is for people who are travelling "for real" in Africa - buying their own food at markets and eating wherever; swimming in lakes where locals fish, swim and urinate. If you were backpacking you should certainly take it on board. However, I don't think Kenya even has schistosomiasis.

You have to make up your own mind but I think you can safely say the travel doctor is being very conservative.
kimburu is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 12:19 AM
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I agree with kimbura. The lodges and camps are quite sanitary and I've never gotten sick from eating salads or anything else there. It would be different if buying from a street vendor. Never had any contact with the water so don't know about that, but if your safari company lists it as an activity, I'm sure it's safe.
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Aug 30th, 2006, 05:12 AM
  #4  
sandi
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People swim and fish from the Ewaso Nyiro (brown river) which doesn't look that appealling with the silt flowing thru... but it's safe. However, they may already have their pool completed at Sabuk, but then it might not be by the time you arrive.

If traveling in Sept, the water might, in fact, be too cold for swimming, depending on just how much water there is. During the drought earlier in the year, most of the Ewaso Nyiro was dry. Though we saw water flowing, it's probably sufficient to wet the footsies!

As to fruits and veggies, as other mentioned, these camps serve plenty of salad and fruit and they are fresh, organic (no chemicals) and delicious. The rules of peel or cook are ideal when "roughing" it, from local street vendors... not the case here. I've been eating everything for 12/years and not a single tummy upset.
 
Aug 30th, 2006, 02:49 PM
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My travel doctor also told me not to swim in any rivers or ponds, and a few guidebooks have said the same. So I think I'll be careful of that.
However the food warnings are more difficult -- I really don't want to avoid fresh fruits and vegetables (and the standard recommendation to wash and peel it yourself is not really feasible in most cases). I'm going on a tour, and I think I'll follow the advice of the tour guide. I'm sure they notice whether their customers get sick at these particular lodges.
ann_nyc is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 03:11 PM
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Get your travel health information from your doctor and the CDC traveler's health web site. Not from a forum.

http://www.cdc.gov/travel/eafrica.htm#country

Quote
" Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in the region, including Lake Malawi. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in these countries. "
RBCal is offline  
Aug 30th, 2006, 04:06 PM
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You may be perfectly safe following local advice but it's usually best to err on the side of caution. That's why doctors usually give conservative advice. Every year or two, there's a European or American tourist in tropical parts of Australia who ends up as dinner for a croc after taking the advice of local somebodies who thought themselves expert in the safety of certain rivers and waterholes for swimming. Heaven knows how many catch water-borne infections in 'safe' water...that kind of thing doesn't make news.

John
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Aug 31st, 2006, 12:10 PM
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As a physician, I applaud the posts of RBCal and afrigala. Schistosomiasis, the african types, are spread by fresh water snails. If the source of the water used to fill the swimming holes is contaminated then the water must be filtered and cholrinated or infection is all but certain. Salt water pools are usually safe, but not always. Your doctors are giving you good advice. The advice of non physicians for prevention or cure of african shistosomiasis is simply foolish. There are in fact some non african forms of shistosomiasis that can be prevented by simply rubbing your skin vigorusly with a towel. However, the african types are far more difficult to get rid of and they burrow through the skin too quickly to be rubbed off. We all take some chances on safari. I have taken many bucket showers with water of questionable origin. However, I usually ask for hot water and then let it cool down for shower purposes. That reminds me, another way of decontaminating shistsome containing water is to heat it to about 123 degrees F. This forum is a good place for travel information, it is not a good place for medical information. Your own physicians are following "Best Practice Guidlines" and we are all taught the same things. Most western Docs never see these more exotic diseases and are glad for it. Don't bring any of them home and make them unhappy. Cheers,
Kibikos husband
KIBOKO is offline  
Aug 31st, 2006, 01:40 PM
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Hello,

As a physician, I second the above post -- this is one area where it's best to follow your doctor's advice, which is givem with knowledge of your medical history and other medical conditions you may have that make you more or less susceptible.

BTW, schisto can be found in many freshwater rivers, including the River Cam in Cambridge, England -- some rowers came down with it after falling into the river one time too many.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 31st, 2006, 01:54 PM
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Kibiko's husband and Julian,

How do you feel about salads and fruits at upscale places? Do you avoid them?
Marija is offline  
Aug 31st, 2006, 03:06 PM
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Thank you for all of your advice. It seems as though it is better to be safe than sorry as far as the wading in the river. Since we are leaving in 2 weeks, I guess it still may be too cold anyway. I am not a big swimmer, I just thought that the kids would have fun walking through the little stone river pools, but it isn't worth the risk if it is a possiblity of getting something. It is our first stop, and I definitly would not want it to ruin our trip. We are staying at other camps that have pools. I guess that leads me to my next question. Does anyone know if the pools at the lodges are clorinated?

Sandi, do you know if the water in the plunge pools in Shampole is chlorinated? I would really hate to miss out on those.

I am planning on going in the water at Mnemba, since that is the ocean and salt water, it looks at least that would be safe.

HLester3 is offline  
Aug 31st, 2006, 03:24 PM
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Hi Marija,
I love fruits and vegetables and find it impossible to give them up myself when in Africa or South America. I believe the high end, more frequented lodges and camps are careful and you are fairly safe in eating the salads fruits and vegetables that they prepare or offer. Nevertheless, travelers do have problems (TD) in Africa. It's hard to say how they become infected, often just one spouse becomes infected, even though both claim they have eaten the same things. In fact, I have become ill traveling in South America (Amazon) while my wife was unaffected. Still, a week or two of wonderful travel would somehow be less if we were unable to enjoy the local fruits and vegtables. If you will do a search on this forum (Cipro), you will find that I have previously offered my thoughts on antibiotics while on Safari. Briefly, Cipro (+imodium), and a newer Rifaximin (Xifaxan) are my favorites. Your Doctor may not yet be aware of the later so if you want him to write a RX for it, I suggest that you do a little internet homework and bring it to him to read. It has only recently been approved for use in the U.S. (although used in Italy for several years) and it is entirely safe. I can't imagine anything much worse than to be on a game drive and have TD. Your Doctor may not have any idea of how isolated you are while on safari so you will need to explain that trained medical attention will be difficult. He should also explain under what conditions you should not take cipro or an antimotility drug (imodium). With a bit of luck you will never need these meds but they will give comfort just having them in your travel kit. Who knows, you may be able to be a good samaritan and help a fellow fodorite one day.
Cheers, Kiboko's Husband
KIBOKO is offline  
Aug 31st, 2006, 05:19 PM
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Thanks, Dr. Kiboko. Both of our doctors have prescribed levofloxacin, on the theory that it will work for a broader range of infections. Should we insist on Rifaximin or Cipro? We're leaving Tuesday so I've got to take action quickly!
Marija is offline  
Aug 31st, 2006, 06:39 PM
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These are similar antibiotics beloging to the Quiolone family and have a similar action, although the dosing is a bit different. You will be fine using either, hopefully none.
KIBOKO is offline  
Aug 31st, 2006, 10:25 PM
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Hi

just back from Sabuk, where we had mud fights (well, I was travelling with a 4 year old..) and swam in the river. No problems to report, the water is very silty, fresh but not cold. The pool at Sabuk is not yet completed. As other posters have said, only you can reach a decision about what to do during your trip, based on advice offered: everybody has their own comfort level.

I hope you like Sabuk as much as we did (it was our favourite lodge). The guides, particularly Gabriel and Lettuce, are fantastic.
isabelmei is offline  
Aug 31st, 2006, 10:43 PM
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isabelmei,
I'm VERY interested to hear more about your trip. Did you stay at Ol Seki Mara too? Will you be posting a report?
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Sep 1st, 2006, 05:43 AM
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isabelmei - Please give some information about traveling with a 4 year old. I am traveling with 2 five year olds. Also, how were the game drives & camel rides at Sabuk? I am very interested about how kids do at the lodges also.
Thanks, Heather
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Sep 1st, 2006, 06:03 AM
  #18  
sandi
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Heather -

Didn't dip in either the plunge or the main pools at Shompole; friend did and her only comment was "a bit cool, but very refreshing." Can't comment on chlorine, can only assume they are, but it's your responsibility to inquire. At those prices they should be able to afford chlorine! LOL!

Sabuk is wonderful for children. When we visited, the little ones visiting - 2 6/yr olds and 1 4/yr old went out on short camel safari and were so excited when they returned, we couldn't shut them up. They each went on their own camels (they are local kids up from NBO, and fine with animals of all kinds), but there's sufficient room up there for a parent/child to ride together.

 
Sep 1st, 2006, 06:34 AM
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Hi Patty, Heather: we had a great time in Kenya the last two weeks. My daughter (4) had a blast, and we overcame any small difficulties very easily. Yes, we did stay at Ol Seki (divine!). Will certainly do a trip report, as have seen little feedback of trips with small kids on safari, and it is certainly do-able and enjoyable.
isabelmei is offline  
Sep 1st, 2006, 06:54 AM
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I know that I shouldn't drink the tap water, but I hadn't even thought about whether it might have parasites that I shouldn't even shower in.
Can anyone shed any light on that?
ann_nyc is offline  

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