Health Before Hunt

"Bear in mind and act on the old maxim: Keep the spirits up, the bowels open, and wear flannel next the skin." Lord Bertram Cranworth, Kenya 1912

The health before hunt section covers the precautions to take before departing on your African hunt, including the visit to the specialist travel clinic and all the possible vaccinations to expect.

The Travel Clinic

Attend a travel clinic or tropical medicine specialist at least 2 months before departure, especially if you have never taken any tropical disease precautions before.

It is important to attend the clinic well in advance of travel because some prevention regimes may require several doses separated at specific intervals of a few weeks. Also you will have time to get over a sore arm/butt and any reaction symptoms you may experience.

Get accurate and up-to-date advice and treatment. Disease prevalence and drug resistance fluctuates in Africa and the travel clinic personnel should be able to pinpoint your destination and your travel and accommodation conditions in order to tailor your treatment regime precisely.

Be prepared to give them full details on...

  • Past immunizations - bring your log book, if you have one
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Medication you take regularly
  • Existing medical conditions
  • Whether you have taken anti-malarials before and any side-effects
  • Length of trip
  • Your exact destination and transit points on your journey
  • Living conditions while in Africa ie. rural camping, 5 star hotel etc

The travel clinic will check if your regular childhood immunisations are up-to-date, including...

If found necessary, booster injections may be given. All these diseases are prevalent in Africa so getting up-to-date cover is important.

After checking your destination and if appropriate, you may be offered immunisation for...

In addition, because you are going to hunt in rural areas, they may offer immunisations for...

Most importantly, you must ask about anti-malarial drugs and take the travel clinicÂ’s advice on which drug is recommended for your African destination and that is suitable for you to take. Some anti-malarial drugs cause rather nasty side-effects in particular people.

Make sure, you know about...

  • Any potential side-effects
  • Full instructions on timing the start and finish of the therapy
  • Symptoms of malaria to be alert for especially on your return

Take travel clinic advice on whether it is suitable for you to take a malaria treatment course of tablets and/or malaria testing kits with you.

Ask about taking a broad-spectrum antibiotic with you for diarrhoea. They should be happy to provide these once they have confirmed you are not allergic to penicillin.

Travel clinics may also sell or recommend the best insect repellents, mosquito nets and other useful travel items.

There are a couple of other diseases available in Africa which should be of concern to the hunter which cannot be prevented with vaccination or prophylactic drugs:

Other Advice On Health Before Hunt

  • Visit your dentist for a check-up well before your departure date.
  • As you are going to be on your feet walking every day, get your feet in tip-top condition.
  • Take a look at the sock advice page
  • It might be an idea to get a professional pedicure if your feet have been rather neglected. Deal with any ingrowing toenails, hard skin etc.
  • You don't necessarily need to start a major fitness program but it would be a good idea to strengthen and condition your legs in preparation. Start walking everywhere possible and use the stairs rather than an elevator.
  • Collect all the items together for your personal first aid kit. See Packing List
  • Organise medical insurance, including specific medical evacuation. Take a look at the Global Rescue evacuation services.
  • Check with your physician whether it is appropriate or necessary for you to take precautions against deep vein thrombosis such as wearing compression stockings on your long-haul flight.

You might like to get a copy of Travellers' Health: How To Stay Healthy Abroad by Dr Richard Dawood. This is the bible for all who want to understand the basic physical problems of travelling. This is important, in-depth, but very readable, information which covers every contingency and which, along with toilet paper, is one of the true indispensables in any adventurous traveller's bag.


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