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Health concerns in East Africa

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Joined: 04 Apr 2003
Posts: 11

PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2003 11:48 pm    Post subject: Health concerns in East Africa Reply with quote

Malaria, yellow fever, and many other diseases that are quite prevalent -- just how concerned should a person be? I mean, just one little tiny mosquito bite (from the wrong one) can be LETHAL! What kinds of precautions have you taken, if you've traveled or taught there? I'm specificially thinking of teaching in Tanzania.
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Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15322

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2003 10:46 am    Post subject: Health in East Africa Reply with quote

For malaria you take prophylactics. The downside is that over a long period they have undesirable side effects. Yellow fever is hardly a big problem, and a shot gives you good protection against that for up to 10 years. Bilharzia can be a problem and the only way with that is to avoid swimming in rivers and lakes. For most other things eg Cholera you can get shots as a protection.

AIDS and other STD's are a major problem for those who are sexually active.

You should be able to find something in Tanzania but income will be minimal. I worked in Zambia for many years but that was some time back. Tanzania is much poorer but an interesting country.
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 2:13 am    Post subject: Africa..and Your Health Reply with quote

In going to are going to have to really take care of your health.If you want to check out which specific shots,etc are needed for a specific country,I suggest you check with your local health provider(in the US,this would be the public health provider...usually at the county level...they will give you good,up to date info).If you are posting from a location other than the US,i am sure you have some kind of a similar public health authority at your location.

Scot 47 gives you very good advice.On the malaria thing....there are a variety of prophylactics...for example,if you are allergic to drugs containing sulfa,you will have to get one not containing sulfa.The yellow fever shot is a good one to get...just as a matter of course.

You should also get the entire hepatititis series(there is Hep A,Hep B,and maybe one other,I have forgotten)Hep is a problem in many countries in the world,definitely including Africa.You should probably also get something against typhoid.There is an oral prophylactic for this one,too.

There is a lot of other stuff to worry about,too.I would NEVER drink anything but bottled water in most places in Africa.A lot of disease is waterborne...including such nasties as Giardia and amoebic dysentery..
Do not forget to be up to date on your tetanus,diptheria whooping cough shots,and polio .Like I said...Africa...there is a lot to think about.When I was in the Peace Corps a long time ago,they gave us about twenty different injections before they sent us.

Be your health.If you go, have a great time. Smile
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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2003 7:40 am    Post subject: bottled water ? Reply with quote

Bottled water ? Maybe things have changed but in my days there WAS no bottled water on sale in Zambia or Tanzania. You boiled the water. Or made tea. Or drank bottled beer (not Chibuku which is millet beer - health risk, especially of Hepatitis) Or soft drinks.

I forgot about the Hepatitis risk. That is strange because (I got Hep and it put the fear of God into me.

In Tanzania there are a couple of good international schools where you could work if you have credentials in nyour own countryas a teaher. Moshi was one and I can't rmember the other.Try a web search. Or what about the Peace Corps ? Do they have a presence in tanzania now ? Or VSO if you are from Her Majesty's Dominions.
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Joined: 11 Jul 2003
Posts: 21
Location: USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2003 5:44 pm    Post subject: health safety in E. Africa Reply with quote

I lived and traveled for four months in Kenya (mostly) and Tanzania (for 3 weeks) and first I have to say that Tanzania is just a beautiful country and I am totally envious if you take the last job there. That said, I would say that the best thing I did in terms of not getting malaria (other than taking Larium) was to have a bug net that held itself up like a tent. It all collapsed down into a tube about 4 inches in diameter and a foot or so long and it kept all manner of bug off of me and away from my face while I slept. Most hotels have a net over the bed but mine had a much finer weave than most and when I traveled out into villages it was a God sent. I'm not finding the name of the company now, but I will try to look at my net at home and let you know, also, I went to the School for International Training site (I had gone abroad with them and their info was excellent)
Their advice is to be followed to the letter. If you can't get bottled water, boil it for 15 minutes, I always bathed in hot water (or water that had been heated) if I could. The locals tend to serve a lot of tea so it is safe, or close to it for you. Also be careful of unpasturised milk (milk that is not boiled) and of any uncooked fruits and vegetables that are not peeled. Ice in glasses is actually really hard to remember but DON'T drink it.
The thing I will say is that most of the things that people on my trip and I came down with were totally treatable (as are most strains of malaria) but these things can also be deadly. If you have loose stools and are vomitting go to the hospital immediately, if you are doing just one or the other you can wait a day or so but don't play the hero and think they will all just pass. I doctor that briefed us when we got to Kenya explained that most things are treatable if taken care of early but they can also be deadly if you don't get treatment.
I wasn't sick much. The couple times I was it was just some loose ones and stomach upsets that were cleared up with a couple of pills to get rid of bacterial infection. Being concious of what you are eating and that it is cooked and/or peeled will make a world of difference. Oh, and one last thing, don't walk around bare foot unless absolutely necessary. The Kenyans wouldn't even let me walk around the house barefoot! On the ground there are these worms that will work their way into the bottoms of your feet and then have to be dug out. I don't know anyone who had this problem but we were warned about it and I think it was unsavory enough that we didn't risk it.
Overall, it sounds super scary but a little bit of precaution will land you in a good place and you will have an excellent time!
Good luck!
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