For those travelling with children in and around East Africa, family health and safety will naturally be a major concern. We have attempted here to answer some of the most common questions with advice and common sense gleaned from years of living and working here with our own families and children. Please note however we are not medical professionals, so for anything specific or for prescription advice specific to you and your family, we always advise speaking to your family doctor before travel.
Remember, also, that Tanzania is a safe and easy destination for a family holiday. The notes on this page are precautionary and here because we believe in being sensible and preventing any possible problems. By far the majority of visitors to Tanzania come and go without ever having to worry about any of these issues. So we recommend you read, and act on, the points below – but don’t be put off, as it is a lovely place and the risks are small and well worth it!
Recommended vaccination schedule
The following vaccinations are advised for Tanzania according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid, and boosters for tetanus, diphtheria and measles. A yellow fever vaccination certificate is not officially required to enter the country unless you’re coming from an infected area such as another nearby African country – however you may wish to have this vaccination as well and ensure you have the certificate. Please check with your doctor for the most up-to-date advice.
In addition to the above Tanzania-specific recommendations, the World Health Organisation advises that all travellers are vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, polio and hepatitis B, no matter where they are travelling to. Outbreaks of these diseases do happen worldwide, including occasionally in Tanzania, so speak with your doctor about these as well.
There is a high risk of malaria throughout Tanzania. Although some high altitude areas have a lower risk attached to them, most safari destinations are high-risk zones, making malaria something which all families should take seriously before visiting. The highest risk of catching malaria is in the rainy season from November to May although it can be caught all year round.
The first symptom of malaria to watch out for is usually a high fever which is often accompanied by shivering while the temperature is increasing and sweating once the fever drops again. The second symptom is a strong headache which is often focused directly behind the eyes. The third most frequent symptom is low grade muscle pain all over the body, and specifically joints, back or bones pain. Often these common symptoms are also accompanied by nausea, vomiting and mild diarrhea. Overall a case of malaria can easily click here now look like a bad bout of flu, at least in the early stages. Should the illness progress further, the patient can become confused and anxious or delirious.
Prevention is better than cure
The anopheles mosquito, which is the carrier of malaria, is most active in the middle of the night, so it is dusk till dawn which you need to be best prepared for. Make sure the places you are staying either have nets cheap jersey China over the beds or have sealed and netted tents and rooms. Take with you good quality mosquito repellent in copious quantities and make sure you use it every evening and in the early mornings, especially on the younger members of the family. Be aware that some of the stronger brands available on the market and commonly used by tourists are not best suited to young children as they contain DEET which while very effective against the mosquito is not good for sensitive skin. Always check the labels of the products you are buying to make sure they are appropriate for young children, and ask your doctor if you are unsure.
Malarial prophylaxis are chemicals taken before you contract or are exposed to the illness and aim to kill or at least weaken the parasite before it takes a hold in your system. For visitors to Tanzania it is advisable to take some form of chemical prophylaxis as although you may feel the risks are low due to short duration of stay or low risk at your destination, it is to use a cliche better to be safe than sorry. This is especially true for pregnant women and young children, both of whom are more at risk from malaria.
There are several different drugs available for preventing malaria: Chloroquine, Paludrine, Fansidar, Malorone, Doxycycline, Artemesine, Mefloquine, to name a few. At the time of writing we can only recommend that you ask for current medical advice on which drug would be best suited to you and your family, as everyone’s circumstances differ and the drugs vary in their potency and side effects. We do however strongly advise you to take at least one of the prophylaxis available to ensure your chances of contracting the illness are as slight as possible.
People often underestimate the effects of the tropical sun, especially on young children. Tanzania can be very hot and humid, particularly over the December to March season, and sunstroke, dehydration and sunburn are all real concerns. When you are out on safari or enjoying watersports and beach activities you and the children can be exposed to the sun for hours on end. Make sure you are properly covered up, with hats, sunglasses, and long-sleeved tops, and don’t forget to take with you sunscreen of at least factor 50. Always, always have a bottle of water per person with you and make sure the children keep drinking throughout the day, especially during long game drives. A few ORS (Oral Rehydration Sachets) are also a good idea to pack as these can be invaluable in heading off dehydration and sunstroke at the end of a long day out in the heat.
Even when taking every precaution with what you are eating and drinking, you may find some members of the family developing a runny tummy – slight cases of diarrhoea. All the camps and lodge used by Wild Things are guaranteed to use fresh, sterilised foods and clean sanitised water but sometimes a bug slips through, or someone simply is a little more sensitive to changes in diet. If someone in your family is affected by a tummy bug, let them rest, stay in the cool and drink lots of clean cool water. Provide them with ORS as required to prevent against dehydration and encourage them to eat if they can, simple bland foods, soups and plain bread. Any lodge or camp will assist if you ask by preparing something simple. Almost all cases of this clear up by themselves over a day or two. If things do get more serious, however, contact a doctor – the lodge can help with this as well.
Don’t forget to take out travel insurance before you go! You will want to make sure your family is covered for any health eventuality – most doctors and hospitals in Tanzania require payment in cash so you need to know in advance whether you will have to pay now and claim later, or whether you can refer the health provider directly to your insurer. Check that your cover includes MedEvac – evacuation to Nairobi, South Africa or Europe – if required, as while Tanzania has adequate health facilities for simple problems, for anything more serious you will want to be treated elsewhere.
Please find here some useful links for further information about health and medical issues in Tanzania. For any specific questions please do ask your Safari consultant – while we are not experts, we may know someone who is! We will direct your query to the best person to answer it and help you settle and concerns you may have.
For specific enquiries, please do not hesitate to Contact Us