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Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa
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Protecting your health in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Sub-Saharan Africa covers most of the continent and has much to offer leisure and commercial travellers. The rich natural resources, minerals and newly discovered oil reserves, as well as growing economies make it destination for business travellers. Tourists are drawn by the region’s rich cultural heritage and diverse eco-systems, which range from desert in the north and south west to savannas to rainforest around the equator to the ‘Mediterranean’ coast of Southern Africa.

What shots do I need for Sub-Saharan Africa?

Meningococcal meningitis, a potentially fatal disease contracted from respiratory droplets, is endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa and you may be advised to get vaccinated against it. A number of countries in the region form what is known as the meningitis belt of Sub-Saharan Africa. Visitors to these countries are at particularly high risk of exposure to meningococcal meningitis. Meningitis belt countries include: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan and South Sudan.

How can I protect myself against water-borne diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa?

The hepatitis A shot will protect you from a virus that causes unpleasant gastro-intestinal (GI) symptoms. You may also wish to consider getting vaccinated against typhoid.

The tap water is not safe to drink in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. A few basic precautions will help you avoid GI upsets during your visit.

Drink only water that you know is safe. Factory-sealed bottles are fine; or water that you know has been treated. Watch out for ice in drinks: freezing does not kill the viruses, parasites and bacteria that cause disease.

How can I avoid food-borne illnesses in South East Asia?

Only eat food that is hot and fresh. Raw food should be avoided, although fruit you can peel yourself is generally fine. Trust your instincts about a restaurant’s hygiene standards – if you don’t feel safe eating there, find another place.

Will I need anti-malarials in Sub-Saharan Africa?

The bite of an infected mosquito can transmit malaria in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. You can obtain malaria prophylaxis from Canadian Travel Clinics branches. Our dedicated travel health nurses are experts at working out when to start and end your course of chemoprophylaxis. They can also advise you on how to avoid mosquito and insect bites, as it is possible to contract some other unpleasant mosquito- and insect-borne illnesses in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Do I need a yellow fever certificate for Sub-Saharan Africa?

There is a risk of yellow fever transmission in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. This mosquito-borne disease can be fatal in some cases. There is a vaccine available, Stamaril, which confers good immunity. For more information, see the Government of Canada’s advice on yellow fever.

Other recommended shots for Sub-Saharan Africa

Discuss your destinations and planned activities with a dedicated travel health nurse at Canadian Travel Clinics to find out if you should get shots against rabies and hepatitis B before you go to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Make an appointment at our Alberta travel clinics at least six to eight weeks in advance as some vaccines need to be given in several doses over a few weeks.