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Africa Travel Planner
"Relax," says Isabelle Young, author of Lonely Planet's Healthy Travel Africa. "If you prepare before you leave and take common-sense precautions while away, you're unlikely to get anything more serious than traveler's diarrhea or sunburn." Here, Young offers suggestions for staying healthy in Africa.
Be smart about malaria:This is your biggest health risk in Africa, especially south of the Sahara. Rely only on advice from travel-health specialists. (Editor's Note: Call the Traveler's Medical Service in Washington, D.C.: +1 202 466 8109.)
Get immunized:Stop worrying about nasties like yellow fever and Hepatitis B by getting the right immunizations. (You may have to show proof of vaccination against certain diseases before you can enter the country.)
Visit the dentist before you go:Who needs a lion-size toothache? Bush medicine is one thing, but bush dentistry?
Protect yourself from insects: Malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever are transmitted by bug bites. Cover up with clothes, use insect repellent, and sleep under a mosquito net. (Editor's note: Traveler's health consultant Dr. Martin Wolf, a tropical-medicine specialist, recommends Ultrathon, Sawyer's Controlled Release, and Permethrin.)
Think before you take a dip:Schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) is a parasite-carried disease that you can catch by swimming, bathing, or paddling in fresh water in South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, Lake Malawi, and the Nile River Valley in Egypt.
Respect the heat: Take time to acclimate, drink plenty of bottled water, and take it easy during the heat of the day.
Bring sturdy footwear: Sore feet can ruin a trip, and blisters, chafing, and other injuries are common causes of major foot infections.
Be prepared: A well-stocked, sterile medical kit, including painkillers, blister ointment, and adhesive tape is vital. If you're on an adventure trip, such as river rafting on the Zambezi, consider getting basic first-aid training first.
Have an escape clause:Don't travel in Africa without a good insurance policy. (Editor's Note: Try Travel Insured.)
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