Medical Information

Yellow Fever

No vaccinations are required of visitors coming from the United States, Canada or Central Europe. People arriving in South Africa from a yellow fever zone must have a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Infants under the age of one year are exempt. Immunisation against yellow fever, cholera and small pocks is not required

Malaria

Malaria is an illness of tropical and subtropical regions. The disease is caused by a parasite which is transmitted to human beings bitten by infected mosquitoes only. It occurs in the northern and northeastern corners of South Africa. However, the government recently intervened and through controlled insecticide spraying reduced the incidence of the illness by more than 80% in the north- eastern parts of KwaZulu-Natal, southern Mozambique, Swaziland and southern Kruger National Park, turning it effectively into a low risk area.

Malaria Risk Area Map in Southern Africa > > >

Prevention of Malaria

Personal protection measures against mosquito bites include the use of an appropriate insect repellent containing di-ethyl toluamide (also known as DEET), the wearing of clothing (light coloured) to conceal as much of the body as practical from dusk to dawn, sleeping under mosquito nets, and the spraying of sleeping quarters at night with a suitable parathyroid containing insecticide, or the burning of an insecticide laden coil.

An anti-malaria drug is also recommended in addition to the above. A number of different types of anti-malaria tablets are available. Choosing one depends both upon the particular area being visited, and the traveller's own medical history. Within South Africa's borders, SAA Netcare Travel Clinics recommend mefloquine, doxycycline, or atovaquone-proguanil as being the most effective anti-malaria tablets. All of these drugs require a prescription. Mefloquine is taken in adult dosage of one tablet per week. This should be commenced at least one week before entering the malarious area and continued for four weeks after leaving the malarious area. Mefloquine is best taken after a meal, and with liquids. Doxycycline is taken in an adult dosage of 100mg per day, starting a day or two before entering a malarious area. Like mefloquine it should be taken for four weeks after return. The drug should be taken after a meal, and washed down with plenty of liquid. It should be avoided in pregnancy and children. Atovaquone-proguanil is taken daily, and can be commenced a day or two before entering the malarious area. It should be taken for seven days after leaving the malarious area.
A combination of chloroquine and proguanil can be used as prophylaxis against malaria and is available without a doctor's prescription. This combination is more difficult to use than the simpler mefloquine, doxycycline, and atovaquone-proguanil regimes, is believed to offer less protection, and is not generally recommended by SAA-Netcare Travel Clinics.

Symptoms Of Malaria

Symptoms of malaria may include a generalised body ache, tiredness, headache, sore throat, diarrhoea, and fever. It is worth emphasising that these symptoms may not be dramatic, and can easily be mistaken for an attack of influenza or similar non-life threatening illness. Deterioration can then be sudden and dramatic, with a rapid increase in the number of parasites in the victim's blood stream. A high swinging fever may develop, with marked shivering and dramatic perspiration.

All persons possibly exposed to malaria who develop any influenza like illness or fever within seven days of entering, or six months of departing a malarious area should seek immediate medical attention, and have blood tests taken to check for possible malaria infection. It may be sensible to have a second blood test taken if a first test is negative for malaria, to be certain of excluding the disease.

High Risk of Malaria

We recommend that pregnant women be extremely careful or avoid high-risk areas altogether as the malaria parasite is extremely hazardous to the unborn fetus.

Food poisoning / Nausea / Vomiting

South African restaurants are required to follow strict sanitation and hygienic guidelines policed by the South African Department of Health and are therefore extremely safe. Just be aware of a few points; ensure it is a bona fide restaurant, avoid dodgy looking eating-places in similar looking areas. Be careful when you buy fresh fruit from informal vendors (people selling goods from temporary structures, etc) next to the main roads. Most of the time the fruit is fresh and really great and the informal vendors selling it take great care to keep it fresh... it is his/her livelihood. Look for signs of the fruit being in the sun for long periods and if it feels warm, avoid buying it. Nuts left in the sun can be very dangerous, so be careful when you buy them on the side of the road. Ask your tourist guide assist you. Other areas where care should be taken are drinking water. South Africa has strict legislation on tap water and it is therefore always safe to drink, except where signs clearly warn you about not drinking the water. Bottled water is available everywhere for those more timid souls.

Cholera

In general, the risk of the average tourist contracting cholera is extremely small. Cholera is a disease of the underprivileged denied clean water and proper sewerage, typically residents of squatter camps or rural areas. Accordingly, travellers within South Africa's borders are advised as follows:

Rivers, lakes and dams in affected areas should be regarded as potentially contaminated. They pose no risk to visitors unless direct contact is made with the water. Cholera seldom occures in South Africa and when it does we post information about it on our RISK page. Check for any current affected areas.

An oral vaccine is available for high risk travellers

Tick Bite Fever

Tick bites most often occur when hiking or camping in wilderness areas, particularly where there is long grass. Hard ticks are the hosts of the bacteria. The ticks tend to lie in wait on grass and is picked up when you brush past. The incubation period (time from the infected bite to the appearance of symptoms) is 5-7 days. Symptoms are extreme headache, fever and a tender body, much like an extreme case of the flu.

The presence of the eschar or rash is a strong diagnostic sign. Chloramphenicol may be used. There is no vaccine against tick bite fever, but it is easily treatable.

HIV/AIDS

There are many people in the world living with HIV/Aids, and South Africa is no exception. In fact, Africa is the worst infected continent. Therefore, we see it as our duty to educate and assist our clients in understanding the disease better and to encourage them towards prevention.

HIV is an abbreviation for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus. A virus is a kind of germ. HIV gradually depletes, eventually destroying the human immune system. A weakened immune system makes an individual more vulnerable to infections and diseases, from a common cold to cancer.

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. A syndrome is a collection of signs and symptoms of diseases. Over a number of years the virus eventually kills off the human immune system. This is known as the AIDS phase. AIDS is not a new disease but rather a cluster of symptoms, caused due to the weakening of the immune system. A person does not die of AIDS but rather from the opportunistic infections/diseases that more easily occur with a compromised immune system.

There are many misconceptions on the transmission of the virus.

HIV can only enter the body through human bodily floods such as vaginal floods and semen (unprotected sexual intercourse), fresh blood (open wounds) and breast milk (mother to child).

It is important to know that HIV is not transmitted by normal day-to-day contact between people, nor is it transmitted through the air like Tuberculosis (TB)

HIV is not transmitted in the following ways:

  • Through saliva or tears.
  • Eating food prepared by someone who is HIV+.
  • Sharing of cups and cutlery.
  • Sharing public toilets.
  • Hugging or shaking a hand of a HIV+ person.
  • Mosquitos: HIV cannot survive in the digestive tract of a mosquito

Please do not hesitate to contact us or your local medical facility for more information.

For more information please contact us at info@southerncircle.com

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