Which are the medical related procedures that you should check-list to safely travel to South Africa
Traveling to African countries may require previous prevention methods to protect yourself from contagious disease and minimize the risk of infection.
South Africa requirements for vaccines and medicines needed before entering its territory should be ideally consulted 6 weeks in advance of your trip, so that your doctor has time to safely provide you the protection you need, according to your travel plans.
For higher protection, make sure that your usual, routine vaccines are up-to-date: measles, tetanus, chickenpox, polio and yearly flu vaccine should already be on the list.
Depending how long your trip will be and what you will be doing, here is a list of recommended vaccines you should consider for protecting yourself before entering South African territory:
Hepatitis A - food and water are contaminating agents for Hepatitis A, making this disease hard to avoid while staying in SA. Make sure you get this vaccine at least 2-4 weeks before departure, so that immune system has time to build up protection against hepatitis virus.
Hepatitis B - sexual contact, needles, invasive medical procedures, tattooing, body-piercings and blood are the main ways in which you can get hepatitis B. Ideally, hepatitis B vaccination series should begin 6 months prior estimated viral exposure.
Typhoid – contaminated food and water are agents for typhoid spreading. Most travelers are advised to take this vaccine, regardless their route and time travel. The vaccine needs time to take effect, so it is better to complete your typhoid vaccination at least 1 week before traveling.
Malaria – one of the most serious diseases of African territories, Malaria can be a deadly illness. A very important aspect when you travel to SA is avoiding mosquito bites. Prescription medicine before, during and after the trip may be necessary, depending on your travel plans. Antimalarial medicine should be taken even after returning fro your trip, to minimize the risk of getting sick. If you experience fever symptoms while traveling in a malaria-risk area or up to 1 year after your return, seek immediate medical care.
Rabies – rabies is transmitted through rabid mammals' bites (dogs, cats and wild animals). If you will likely spend most of your time outdoors, will be working with or around animals, or want to move to SA, you should definitely take this vaccine. The immunization is considered to be complete after 3-doses of vaccine.
Yellow fever – as there is no yellow fever risk in SA, authorities require vaccination proof only from yellow fever risk countries.
Besides getting vaccinated, when traveling to a high risk for contagious disease area, you should always consider:
Packing necessary health related items for your trip, to be prepared to treat common injuries, as medical supplies can often be unavailable or hard to find
Eat and drink from safe sources
Avoid animal and bug bites
Limit exposure to germs in any way
Use sterile medical equipments
Avoid sharing body-fluids
Please note that any sign of illness after returning from your trip should be referred to your doctor for assessment. Accurate travel history should be mentioned to your doctor for a correct evaluation of your health status and proper medical assistance.