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

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

Sep 1st, 2006, 07:39 AM
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Shower water is hot. I've been bathing and showering in Kenya/Tanzania for 12/years, and never hesitated. I sure wouldn't want to be around me if I hadn't. Just keep your mouth closed so you don't swallow anything.

There's some water in the States I wouldn't drink or shower/bath in.
Sep 1st, 2006, 01:37 PM
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I've found that the fruits and veg at upscale camps are fine -- the fruits in particular are wonderful and would be very hard to give up. I've been travelling to Africa for years and have never experienced (or witnesssed) a case of food poisoning in a safari camp.

jasher is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2006, 08:52 PM
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I actually had very strong second thoughts about my post when I remembered the poster had young kids. That changes everything, and I have to admit if they were my kids I would be very reluctant to let them into fresh water anywhere in Africa unless I was really sure it was safe. So scrub my post ... Having said that...

It is absolutely true that a forum like this is a totally unreliable source for medical information. Repeat that ten times!! Also, Julian's point about the doctor being aware of medical history is spot on - and something that doesn't automatically occur to us - of course some of us are more susceptible than others.

Actually, I thought the question was asking how other people took advice which seems overly cautious - and come on, which good doctor have you ever been to who didn't err on the cautious side? They do and they absolutely should. However, there IS information here applicable to that particular river in that particular location and in making a decision on whether or not to swim can't that information can be taken into account when deciding what kind of a risk is acceptable? Sandi may have gone too far to say it was "safe" but you have to take that relatively... she obviously hasn't been doing analysis of the river over a period of time and surely people here aren't so stupid as to think she has? (Am I naive?)

I'm certainly not saying doctors are wrong and I know better but we all must have our own risk vs reward equations and how are medical risks separate from that? If you have zero risk tolerance you can't do much - and you certainly can't travel to an unfamiliar environment. So in some way we all gather information from disparate sources and weigh it (hopefully paying slightly more attention to Kiboko's husband than me). Afrigalah is right to broaden the issue and has a good point (I was very cautious when swimming in Northern Australia - in the sea too, with all those sharks and riptides) but I doubt you'll find him in the kitchen peeling his own veg. Where do we draw the line? What about highway robbery? What about public transport in Africa?(The answer has to be "don't do it" if you want a very low risk scenario but then it surely does depend on which bus and where). At what point do you say the risk is too much? Showering? Toilet seats? (I mean in busy lodges or hotels - do they really disinfect under the seat every time? They are never in a hurry? ;-) ). For most of us here I am sure it is a ridiculous idea not to take a shower at a $800 per night camp because there might be something in the water, or that we invade the kitchens so that we can peel our own fruit and vegetables - just because we are in Africa.... but this is precisely where perfectly logical medical travel advice is heading. Again, please don't get me wrong, in this case the advice is sound in that there is no risk of schistosomiasis if you do not go into fresh water, and I really do agree that everyone needs to take precautions when travelling; I would never swim in a lake near any kind of population center - ESPECIALLY if the locals were swimming - but eventually we come to the point where the advice is not to swim in fresh water at all in Africa - or more importantly in this case in Kenya - and I'm thinking maybe this is a step too far based on the evidence available to me. Are the doctors aware of evidence that is not available to me? Possibly, but I suspect they are simply reading from a health advisory document which treats Africa as all the same - from the slums to 5 star resorts 50 miles from the nearest other people. If fresh water = schistosomiasis then surely tsetse flies = sleeping sickness and mosquitos = dengue fever and taxis = crash and South Africa = muggings and food = TD. I'm going too far... but seriously, are we to take away from this thread that doctors advice is to be followed without question (swimming) unless we know better (vegetables)? That doesn't make sense does it? So let's not back away from offering opinions in good faith on matters such as these so that we can continue to make more informed decisions.

Please don't take me too seriously and do point out where I am being illogical or even foolish. I do want to be safe; just that I don't see how I can be without becoming Howard Hughes.

By the way, I live in Thailand and so I perhaps have slightly different perpective, but I don't think so - except for a stronger stomach than most I am as susceptible to everything as everyone else.
kimburu is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2006, 11:46 PM
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Everything you say is perfectly sensible, kimburu. It should always be a matter of taking proper medical advice seriously and applying balance. I was once on a travel forum where a great deal of medical advice was sought (this one is refreshingly free of such questions) and to me, quite a few of the questioners seemed to be looking for advice to either ignore their GP or not go to a GP at all. They were spending small fortunes on their safaris but were hoping to hear what they wanted to hear so they could economise on their health. That was not good at all!

I can't say I've had no trouble medically on safari, because I did start a long but mild bout of giardiasis a few days after arriving in Kenya. I could have contracted that anywhere, but as a fellow traveller had a more serious stomach upset just before me, I have to suspect a contact from Nairobi onwards. On the whole, though, I wouldn't expect to strike trouble from salads in just about any safari camp (so no, I wouldn't ask the kitchen to let me peel my own vegies ); nor have I ever worried about camp water, either when showering or even when brushing my teeth with the stuff that comes straight out of a tap. But swimming in a river or waterhole? I don't think so. I've done it in Papua New Guinea and northern Australia (before the crocs got numerous), but not now I'm older and wiser.

afrigalah is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 08:10 AM
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Sometimes I think I'm getting older but not wiser. At least Fodors inspires me to become more knowledgable.
kimburu is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 08:38 AM
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Nice post, kimburu. I totally agree with you.
Patty is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 11:15 AM
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Thank you all again for all of your input. I didn't mean to get this kind of discussion going.

I do want to heed my doctors advice, but at the travel clinic, I didn't even talk to the doctor, we only talked to a nurse that gave us a big print out on Kenya and Tanzania. Since I am an attorney I probably jumped to the conclusion that the doctor made a blanket statement because of liability issues. It is easier to say not to do something, instead of the potential for me to follow their advice and blame them.

It kind of followed along the peeled vegetable thing. I have seen pictures of the salads at these places, and people talking about the food, but I have not read any posts of people getting sick. So I thought that it was just another blanket statement. I told her that I was staying at more upscale lodges, but she told me not to eat the salads.

My original thought was just to see if I was being too overly cautious, that there had been a lot of other people swimming at Sabuk and there was nothing to worry about, and that no one had contracted anything out of the ordinary. After reading the posts I realized that it probably was not worth the risk.

I know that this is not a medical forum, but I have gotten some very useful information about malaria medication. I took the kids to their pediatrician for their malaria medication and they insisted on prescribing them Larium, since it was only once a week instead of daily. I asked if I could have Malarone instead, since I had heard not so good things about vivid dreams, etc and was concerned about giving it to the kids. They would not change the prescription. I went to the travel doctor's office and the nurse told me that they do not prescibe Larium to anyone because of the side effects. If I had not heard of the side effects on this board then I would have had no idea I should be asking for something else.

Thank you, Heather
HLester3 is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 12:31 PM
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Heather -

As with all information, we have to dissect it, as you are doing. If I sounded a bit cavalier about the Ewaso Nyiro, I'm sorry, but I'm sure management wouldn't allow guests in if they knew it to be infected with anything, let alone eat the fish guests catch here.

Besides, the fact that it might just be too cold for swimming, just ask the question. But know there is plenty to do at Sabuk, that you may not even have to go down to the river.

If it weren't for fruits and veggies, I'd practically starve on my trips. Though far from a vegetarian (the girl likes her meat), the sight of veggies grown without chemicals is a treat and have been very good to me over all these years. Again, if not certain, don't eat.

For sure, if Bilharzia is a concern, do not go near the water (Nile) in Cairo... here it is a problem. So no wading near the Nile, and avoid water laden veggies, i.e., lettuce (which we never saw), watermelon, even cucumbers. However, we ate both and survived. We must have iron tummies, but no one with us got ill whether in Cairo, Luxor, Aswan or on the cruise boat.

Can't believe the pediatrican prescribed Lariam; for children no less! Whether once a week or Malarone daily, the children are too young to be taking their own meds. You'd be doling out their pills daily. You were right to check further on this.

Sep 3rd, 2006, 05:46 PM
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Heather... Please don't feel you did anything wrong getting a discussion going on the topic. I think a lot of people learned something (remember for every poster there might be 100 readers). It was actually a VERY good question.
kimburu is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2006, 06:31 PM
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Yes, Heather, I second kimburu's remark. Your question was NOT one of the kind I experienced in the other travel forum.

afrigalah is offline  

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