Our health and medical decisions started with extensive internet research to see what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Trip Advisor posts, UK Health care sites, etc. recommended for each country. We had to keep in mind that what is recommended for US travelers who may spend 2-4 weeks in country and only go to clean, remote safari camps are different than what is recommend for travelers like us who will spend 4 months and will be stopping at many small villages and buying our food from local vendors. Fortunately our new family doctor who is so fantastic and thorough had worked Africa during her residency and she had excellent advice.
We also had excellent help from our county health organization. The nurse there asked for a list of countries we would visit, then did hours of research on our behalf. The county health clinic then provided at very reasonable cost a few of the vaccinations we needed and which are not normally handled by private doctors.
Yellow Fever was not a definite requirement for us and was several hundred dollars each so we are delaying getting it until we arrive in So. Africa, where it is far less expensive. In fact most of the medicines are likely less expensive in So. Africa than the US but we decided to go ahead and acquire them before departure to simplify our lives.
Malaria is one of the main concerns and here there is no easy answer. There are three medicines to chose from: Larium, Malarone and Doxycycline. All have some negative side effects. On previous trips to malarial areas we had taken malaria prophylactic medicines, but be when we sailed through Indonesia a few years ago we elected to just carry the treatment medicine rather than take daily prevention pills. This worked OK for us there because malarial mosquitos only bite at night and we were always out on our sailboat a hundred yards from shore by then. In Africa we would constantly be exposed so we chose daily Malarone tablets. If its side effects prove problematic we may switch to Doxycycline when we get to Africa even though we have purchased the Malarone already.
While sailing around the world for the past 17 years we had been exposed to and been vaccinated for most cont
ingencies. We reviewed our yellow immunization cards to make sure we were current with Hepatitis A & B, Polio, Typhoid and Tetanus (T-DAP).
We also carry RoadID bands, which are rubber wristbands we use in the US on hiking and biking trips. The bands have a metal tab with name, blood type, emergency contact and a password for a secure website that has our full medical histories on it.
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