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Health in Zimbabwe for Travelers

Inoculations are NOT required if you are from the West for Zimbabwe, Botswana (Chobe) Namibia (Caprivi)

matopos panoramic view

Matopos Hills - Zimbabwe

Nearly all safari lodges will carry a comprehensive medical aid kit. In the unlikely event of serious accidents while on safari you're likely to be treated by MARS (Medical Air Rescue Service), a very professional and experienced company.

Most of your travel service providers will subscribe to MARS and the chances are your own travel insurance taken out in your resident country will be linked with MARS to cover any treatment required.
Medical services provided by hospitals and pharmacies in Zimbabwe are not good.

Other Health Tips
It is unlikely you will contract any serious disease while in Southern Africa. No compulsory vaccinations are required for Zimbabwe but recommended ones are diphtheria and tetanus, hepatitis, polio and meningitis, and typhoid.

Travelers have advised the use of bottled water to avoid any possible stomach complaints

Be sensible about exposure to the sun and the heat in general as this may cause heat stroke or exhaustion – eat salt on your food, drink liquids regularly and wear protective sun creams and clothing.

If you suffer from allergies, bring your own prescriptive medicine. Other useful medical aid kit items to bring along are: antihistamine (insect bites, itches, allergies),

Imodium or equivalent (for diarrhoea) and antiseptic cream (for minor injuries).

AIDS Your biggest chance of contracting HIV/AIDS is through unprotected sex


Your chance of getting Bilharzia is small if you follow some simple rules.
Do not use water directly from rivers or dams for drinking, unless you boil it first.
Swimming in rivers or dams exposes you to Bilharzia, unless you can see signboards saying the water is safe and clean for human consumption.

The water in towns, at hotels and in swimming pools, has been treated and is then safe.
Water Sports Clubs usually treat their shoreline areas.
Public parks using tap water will have signs telling you if the water is safe to use. Fast flowing mountain streams are usually clear, clean, and free of Bilharzia.

There are pills available for protection against Bilharzia. See a Doctor, or Pharmacist

Cholera acts by releasing a toxin within the intestine. It has to get into your gut via your mouth (not absorbed through skin by bathing or showering) and it has to survive the hostile acidic stomach on the way. If it makes it to the small bowel it is well adapted to survive there; each germ is capable of "swimming" by wiggling its tail to counteract the intestine's propulsive movement which would tend to push it down and out. It is resistant to bile salts and can adhere to the intestinal wall as well. You get it by ingesting it either in water or contaminated food.

The contamination comes from another individual who has cholera - fecal excretement contaminates hands or water supplies and passes the germs along. Washing food in contaminated water is a problem and swallowing water bathing or showering or while brushing teeth can pass it along. Washing hands is very important in preventing it, as is very careful food handling, washing and preparation

Tick-Bite Fever March-April is the worst time as the grass is long and wet.
Symptoms appear one week later, with swollen glands and severe aching of the bones, backache, headache and fever. The disease will run it’s course over three to four days

Yellow Fever

Vaccination certificates are necessary if you have come from any infected area as specified by the World Health Organisation


General Advice

Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes The old adage rings true “Prevention is better than cure” – therefore the best way to avoid malaria is to avoid being bitten in the first place. Mosquitoes and most other insects are generally active for a few hours around sunset. They can and often do continue to be bothersome throughout the night and are also around in the early morning.

• We suggest that you change into longs just before sunset and spray yourself with the provided repellent
• Turn out lights when not in use • Use insect repellent on exposed skin.
• Sleep under a bednet or in a netted tent or hut or in a house or caravan with screens • Close windows and doors at night.
• Spray insecticide aerosol and/or burn mosquito coil at night. Anopheles mosquitoes prefer to feed near ground level so spray your legs and feet as well.
Malaria mosquitoes (Anopheles) are smaller, fly more quietly and have a distintive posture of head down, body at an angle and hind legs raised when feeding or at rest. This is in contrast with the horizontal position of most other mosquito species.

Take prophylaxis in malaria risk areas. Get good advice before you plan your holiday. Take the pills same day each week when weekly, or at the same time of the day if daily. Continue prophylaxis for 4 weeks after your return. Complete the course.

If you, or one of your party, show ‘flu like symptoms’ and signs like body pain, headache and fever develop 7 to 20 days or longer after visiting an endemic area, have a simple blood test done. This check will show if there are any parasites in your blood, and just remember, early treatment rarely leads to complications.

The further away you are from towns and crowded areas the less chance you have of contacting malaria as it is relayed from person to person

Medical insurance You are well advised to obtain medical insurance before arrival. Please bring any personal medicines that you may require with you, as they may be hard to find.
If you wear prescription glasses we recommend that you also bring a spare pair.
Bring your own small medical kit, including band aids, iodine (water purification), and aspirin, or your own preferance in pain killers, as well as antacids, and doses of antibiotics.
It is also wise to bring a small supply of unused hypodermic needles with you.
Some clinics in remote places may not have stocks.
Avoid walking barefoot. Any cut, bite or sting, can easily get infected in the dust and humidity

Rabies Be wary of strange animals. even stray dogs and cats. If you are bitten, by any animal, it is wise to go straight to a clinic. Rabies may be treated effectively with a course of injections if caught in time

Sunstroke and Sunburn It is recommended that you wear a broad-rimmed hat, wear sunglasses, and use A good quality sun-screen cream or lotion.
You can also cover your skin by wearing long sleeve shirts, long trousers, slacks, or jeans.

Snakes Are very common, but hardly ever seen. Puff adders being the most dangerous.They lie in paths and do not move, especially in autumn. Not all snakes are dangerous. So, if you do get bitten by a snake, don’t panic.

If you can, kill the snake for identification purposes, but if that is not possible then try and remember what the snake looked like.
Your trail guides, or rangers, will have with them snake bite serum, and they do know what to do.
Above all, remember that most snake bites are not fatal

Scorpions and Spiders

You could get a rather painful bite, but its almost never fatal. A simple precaution is, when you are camping, shake out your shoes and clothes in the morning before getting dressed, and checking your sleeping bags, etc, before retiring at night

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