Health and Wellness

ID #1276

Health, Hygiene and Safety, South Africa.

The animals in game reserves are not household pets. They have learned to survive in a competitive environment. Please bear this in mind when visiting the game reserves. Remember also to heed the advice of your guide they have experience in this regard.

Aside from the apparently obvious advice not to get out of ones car to stroke the kitties (this is not an exaggeration it happens), there are other threats that need to be borne in mind:

o Malaria: Do not fool around with malaria it is dangerous. Malaria regions include all low-lying areas in Northern Namibia, Northern Botswana, the Northern Province, Swaziland and northern Kwa-Zulu Natal, as well as countries north of those mentioned above. Preventative medication is available at most pharmacies and travel clinics in the region. It is important to consult a pharmacist for advice on the best drug, or combination of drugs, to take. However, the best advice is that prevention is better than cure. 90% of all mosquito bites take place on the ankles. So firstly, avoid malaria areas after the start of the summer rains (October). Secondly, if you are in a malaria area, before the sun goes down:

 Have a shower
 Avoid wearing perfume or after-shave lotion
 Wear long sleeves and long trousers as well as socks
 Apply mosquito repellent liberally to all exposed skin on your hands, neck, face, tops of your ears, ankles, etc. Take care to apply it uniformly they quickly find those areas where you have not completely covered the skin
 Switch on the overhead fan in your room. Mosquitoes smell the carbon dioxide in your breath. With the fan whirling away, they seem unable to find you. If there is a mosquito net available, use it.
 If you hear them or feel them biting then you have not followed the above rules
 The fact that locals do not obey these rules is no reason why you should relax your guard.

o Bilharzia (or more correctly schistosomiasis): The parasite is present in many of the dams and rivers north of the Witwatersrand. Avoid direct contact with the water in such regions.
o Sleeping Sickness: Transmitted by the bite of tsetse fly. The flies have been eradicated from most areas so this is not usually a problem. The flies are still found in Northern Zimbabwe and around the Okavango Swamps.

o Water: Water in most areas is treated and safe to drink. Ask the locals about this anyway.
o Sunburn: Being close to the equator and at high altitude, sunburn is often a real threat in the region particularly for fair-skinned visitors from Northern Europe. Use sunblock liberally. Aloe gel from aloe ferox is superb for the treatment of sunburn. Alternatively use Aloe vera gel. Available from most pharmacies.
o Innoculations: Persons arriving from a yellow fever zone must have a valid inoculation certificate. Infants fewer than 12 months of age are exempt.
o HIV/AIDS is rampant in Southern Africa. Avoid placing yourself at risk by not indulging in high-risk behaviour of any description.
o Crime: It is sensible to take the same precautions as one might in any of the worlds metropolitan areas. Never leave luggage unattended in front of your hotel or in the lobby. Deposit valuables in the hotels safety deposit box. Do not stroll around streets after dark. Always lock your car doors and keep your windows closed. Do not draw cash from a bank or ATM and walk into the street with it in your hand. Do not enter squatter camps or underprivileged areas without a knowledgeable, experienced guide.
o South Africa has no national health scheme. It is advisable to purchase medical insurance that covers medical and other costs during the period of your stay. ATTrahealth

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Last update: 2014-03-09 15:26
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.3

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