South Africa Health & Safety Issues

Have a Healthy Holiday – know what Beetles – bugs – bites can harm you.


It is advisable to consult a travel health practitioner at least two weeks before visiting any country.
The Department of Health of the Government of South Africa abides by World Health Organization (WHO) International Health Regulations.

Apart from yellow fever vaccination, there are NO other compulsory vaccines for travelers to South Africa.

Bilharzia (Schistosomiasis)

Is a microscopic organism found in rivers,
streams, pools and dams (both stagnant and flowing) in the northern and eastern areas of the country.
Visitors are advised not to swim in
unchlorinated pools, dams or rivers in these areas. Any water for consumption other than from a tap should be boiled beforehand. There is no immunization against Bilharzia and symptoms may only present months or years after exposure

Medical Care

Medical services are readily available in South Africa and are sophisticated and safe for visitors to use. Blood is carefully screened before use.

Doctors are listed by their surnames, under Medical, in the telephone directories.

Major hotels have an arrangement with doctors and dentists to treat guests when needed.

Hospitals are listed under “H” in all telephone directories and indicated with“H” on maps.

Yellow Fever – Endemic Countries

A valid Yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from ALL travellers over one year of age entering South Africa within six days of leaving a country listed as “Yellow Fever- Endemic” by the WHO.

Visitors who come from, travel through, or disembark in these areas, are advised to be
inoculated against yellow fever at least ten days before visiting South Africa.

Yellow fever does not occur in South Africa and the above measures are intended to protect the South African community from the disease being

Yellow fever is a viral disease that is transmitted from infected to susceptible people by a mosquito. Yellow fever is endemic to West, Central and East Africa, as well as South America.

There is a high incidence of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. It is mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse and every precaution needs to be taken to have safe sex.

Condoms are readily available from pharmacies, hospitals, clinics and supermarkets. Medical facilities, including injections and blood transfusions are sophisticated and safe; blood is carefully screened before use.

Tick Bite Fever
African tick bite fever is a febrile disease transmitted by ticks that have fed on infected dogs, cattle or game.

The same measures to avoid mosquito bites need to be taken to avoid or minimise the risk of tick bites in rural and game watching areas.

The disease masquerades as a severe flu but is often accompanied by an eschar (tick bite with a scab/necrotic skin), skin rash and or enlarged lymphnodes.

It is very rarely fatal, but is very dangerous to the very young, very old and debilitated persons. It is effectively treated with specific antibiotics. There is no vaccine available


Vaccination is not a statutory requirement in South Africa.

South African tap water is safe to drink, except where indicated otherwise.

Malaria is transmitted to humans by the bite of
an infected mosquito. Once inside humans, the parasites move to the liver where they develop. After maturing, they move back into the bloodstream where they invade and multiply inside the red blood cells. The infected red
blood cells burst, releasing the parasites back into the bloodstream where the whole process starts again.

A malaria risk, predominantly in the malignant form caused by P. falciparum, exists in certain low-veld regions of the country, namely parts of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Maputoland coast part of KwaZulu-Natal.

Certain areas in the neighbouring countries of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and Botswana are also malaria areas.

The warmer months from October to May are the highest risk periods.

SA has an extensive antimalaria programme that has reduced the incidence of malaria by some 81 percent in two years.

Anti-malarial drugs
Chloroquine resistance occurs and chloroquine on its own is no longer considered effective. Please consult a travel health consultant, doctor or a pharmacist regarding the recommended preventative medication and adhere to the instructions for taking the medication, otherwise it will not be effective. Malaria prophylaxis should be commenced prior to entering the
area, for the duration of your stay and for up to four weeks afterwards

Most medicines are obtainable at pharmacies, and emergency pharmacies are open at night. Visitors are, however, advised to bring any supplies of specialised medicines they may need, with them.

Should visitors carry any prescription medicine on them, it would be best to bring along a letter of authorisation from a doctor, since some medicines might be mistaken for illegal drugs.

Medical insurance
There is no national health scheme and visitors are advised to take out medical travel insurance for the duration of their stay.

Malaria Symptoms – The incubation period for malaria can be as short as seven days or as long as several months.
The majority of P. falciparum-malaria patients develop symptoms and signs within two weeks from being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Any flu-like illness: Headache, fever, rigors, malaise, muscle or joint pain and even diarrhoea. SHOULD BE CONSIDERED TO BE MALARIA UNTIL PROVEN OTHERWISE.

Diagnosis & Treatment
Any person returning from a malaria area, who develops the abovementioned symptoms, should consult a doctor preferably familiar with
tropical diseases immediately.
Blood tests MUST be done to determine whether the parasite is present.
Treatment must start immediately, and a blood smear must be carried out, but please remember: One negative smear does not exclude malaria.
Smears must be repeated until malaria or another disease is diagnosed.
Malaria attacks can occur up to six months after leaving a malaria area.

Precautionary measures
* In all the risk areas, visitors should take precautionary measures to prevent mosquito bites at all times
* Remain indoors between dusk and dawn, if possible
* Wear long-sleeved clothing, long trousers and socks when outside at night
* use a DEET containing insect repellent on exposed skin and reapply every four hours
*Sleep in a room / tent with mosquito screening in good condition and /or air-conditioning
* Burn mosquito coils / mats in the bedroom
* Sleep under an insect-repellent mosquito net

Make sure you have travel insurance

Often overlooked but always vital when travelling – your travel insurance is there should you have an accident, lose or break your handheld consoles or anything in-between based on the insurance package you buy. If you’re looking to travel on the cheap.

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