Health information

Health information for travellers to Southern African region.
See also
US Department of State tips for Travellers to Sub-Saharan Africa and A safe trip abroad.

Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travellers. Travellers' diarrhoea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout Southern Africa and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhoea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.

Malaria is a preventable infection that can be fatal if left untreated. Prevent infection by taking prescription antimalaria drugs and protecting yourself against mosquito bites (see below). Most travellers to Southern Africa should take mefloquine to prevent malaria. Risk for malaria exists all year in the northern part of Botswana, rural areas of South Africa, all nonmountainous areas of Swaziland, and all areas of Zimbabwe except the cities of Harare and Bulawayo. There is no reported risk for travellers visiting Lesotho and St. Helena.

A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from a country in tropical South America or sub-Saharan Africa. (There is no risk for yellow fever in Southern Africa.)

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis, and trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) are other diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Protecting yourself against insect bites  will help to prevent these diseases.

Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in this region. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in Southern African countries. Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travellers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid night-time travel if possible and always use seat belts.

CDC Recommends the Following Vaccines (as Appropriate for Age):

See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

To Stay Healthy, Do:

To Avoid Getting Sick:

What You Need To Bring with You:

After You Return Home:

If you have visited an area where there is risk for malaria, continue taking your malaria medication weekly for 4 weeks after you leave the area.
If you become ill after your trip—even as long as a year after you return—tell your doctor where you have travelled.

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