South Africa is a fascinating mix of both the developed and developing world. We have world-class medical facilities and health professionals in our major cities, and we enjoy many of the same medical technologies of the developed world. This infrastructure is available at less than an hour’s drive from our Fynbos site and two hours’ drive from our Bushveld site. However, South Africa also suffers from a public health system considered typical of developing nations. Thus, you should be aware of some associated health risks. Please find the most up-to-date information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/south-africa/. We summarise some of that information and provide additional insights below, but please consult with your medical professional to discuss risks, precautions, and necessary vaccinations or medications.
Vector-borne and communicable diseases typical of tropical regions can be found in South Africa. These may include: malaria, dengue fever, rabies, schistosomiasis, filariasis, chikungunya, tick bite fever, West Nile Virus, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis, cholera, and typhoid fever. Vaccines and prophylactics are available or are required for some of these diseases, but in all cases, preventative measures can be taken to reduce one’s risk.
Immunization and vaccination
Please ensure that routine immunizations and vaccinations are up-to-date. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
There is no risk of yellow fever in South Africa. The government of South Africa requires proof of yellow fever vaccination only if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. Pregnant women and immune-compromised individuals cannot be vaccinated
The CDC recommends the following additional vaccines. Please discuss your risks and choices with a medical professional.
CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in South Africa, regardless of where you are eating or staying.
You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in South Africa. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas.
The CDC also suggests the following vaccines for some travelers.
You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so CDC recommends this vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures.
Malaria is not present in the region of our Fynbos expedition but does occur in the region of our Bushveld expedition (Chloroquine-resistant malaria is found in northern and eastern South Africa). Always take precautions to avoid or reduce mosquito bites.
Rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in South Africa, so CDC recommends this vaccine for at-risk groups.
- Ensure that you have medical insurance that covers you while travelling, and provides for medical evacuation or repatriation.
- South Africa has a high burden of tuberculosis. Upon returning to your home country, it may be prudent to get tested for an active or latent infection.
- If you return home and suffer from flu-like symptoms or headaches, please seek medical attention and get screened for malaria infection. Malaria can be fatal if untreated.
- Please consult the CDC website, at the link provided, and take note of “stay healthy and safe”, “health notices”, “after your trip”, and the links to current malaria information..
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