Health During Hunt
Health During Hunt covers tips to keep fit and healthy once you have arrived in Africa.
"Everything in Africa bites, but the safari bug is worst of all." Brian Jackman
General Travel/Hunting Health Tips
Some of the 'in town' tips are not applicable to some southern African countries where the standards of public hygiene are generally higher than the other hunting countries.
- Keep taking your anti-malarial drugs as per regime.
- Keep yourself well hydrated - drink plenty of water in camp, in the hunting truck and out hunting on foot.
- Keep protected from the sun - cover up and use sun protection cream.
- Keep yourself protected from insects as much as possible - spray your tent/room, use insect repellents.
- Don't leave your tent/room door or windows open at night with the light on - you will regret it when every flying bug in the area drops in.
- Watch what you eat and drink especially in towns and hotels before and after the hunt.
- Always use bottled water that you unseal yourself.
- Use bottled water to clean your teeth.
- Avoid street vendored food and drink, especially ice cream.
- Avoid ice in drinks unless the bar or serving facilities are professional and hygienic.
- Avoid buffet meals where it looks like the food may have been lying around a long time.
- Employ strict hygiene measures in public toilets especially - use hot air driers or paper towels, not soggy communal towels.
- Keep out of rivers and waterhole water. If you do go in to help retrieve your hippo or crocodile, dry off quickly and take a fresh shower as soon as possible.
- If you need to make a short wade across water, your black plastic bin bags may come in useful to wear on your legs. (See Packing List)
- Take time every day to look all over your body for ticks, including all the nooks and crannies!
- Look after your skin - if you see you are beginning to chafe in places, start applying talcum powder, vaseline, diaper rash cream or special athletic lubricants.
- Don't walk around outside barefooted - thorns, scorpions, jiggers, stinging ants are just a few of the hazards.
- Check your footwear before putting them on. Rather than putting your hand in, shake them out vigorously. You never know what has got in them!
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Blisters are caused by an area of skin repeatedly stretching against the underlying tissue and bone. When you are doing, possibly a lot of unaccustomed walking when you are hunting, high friction, moisture and heat causes your skin, sock and shoe to stick together but because the foot bones continue to move, the skin is made to stretch - this can lead to blisters which can ruin your hunt. Some people are more susceptible to blisters than others but a few simple measures will minimise your risk of blisters...
- Do some walking or training in the shoes/boots you intend to use, before the hunt. This will get your feet fit and identify any potential blister problem areas.
- Always wear well-fitting and broken-in hunting shoes or boots. Make sure they lace up firmly preventing excessive movement of your foot within them. Use shoes with a 'breathable' upper so that moisture can evaporate and cushioning pads or insoles in the right places for your feet.
- Wear moisture-wicking socks.
- If you are particularly blister prone, consider wearing a thin sock under your regular socks.
- Use extremely low friction Engo Blister Prevention Patches which you apply directly to your shoe, not to your skin, in the places where you may get a blister - ball of the foot, under and back of heel, small toe etc. These patches are resistant to moisture and are long-lasting. They are not helpful for blisters between the toes.
- Anti-perspirants, powders, astringents and lubricants may work in the short term but generally are pretty useless, possibly increasing the chance of blisters.
- Taping the blister prone areas of your foot is the best prevention but is time-consuming to do correctly. Choose a tape which is very low friction and is the most adhesive on sweaty, moist skin. Rock Tape H2O is one of the best tapes to use. It does not leave tape residue on the skin when removed, it is super-adhesive in wet and hot conditions and it conforms to the shape and curves of the foot and even between toes. Another good brand is StrengthTape
If you do get a blister it is important that it does not get infected.
- Wash your hands with disinfectant soap and water.
- Clean the blister and surrounding area using a disinfectant soap or solution.
- Sterilize the tip of a needle by soaking it for at least three minutes in a disinfectant solution or heating it until it glows red, then cools.
- Make a small puncture at the base of the blister. Leave the roof of the blister attached so it can continue to protect the skin.
- Gently push the fluid out.
- Apply antibiotic ointment to a piece of gauze and cover the wound. Avoid drying products such as alcohol.
- Place blister dressing so the blister is surrounded by hole (dressing has doughnut shape with hole in the middle) and adheres around it.
- Cover with bandage.
- Replace the bandage daily and check for signs of infection - heat, pain and swelling on or around the blister, pus, red streaks radiating from the blister, or fever.
- Get some rest and drink plenty of clear fluids.
- It is important, especially in hot climates, that you do not become dehydrated.
- Take rehydration salts if necessary.
- If you feel like eating, good foods are bananas, salted crisps, rice or clear soups.
- Avoid alcohol at all costs.
- In most cases, traveller's diarrhoea is self-limiting and with a little rest and rehydration you can be on your way again.
- Taking an anti-diarrhoeal medication such as Loperamide will stop the diarrhoea.
- Taking an antibiotic like ciprofloxacin will usually knock the diarrhoea on the head.
- If after 24-48 hours the diarrhoea does not improve or worsens it is good to seek medical attention, as the diarrhoea could indicate other conditions.
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