Your Kilimanjaro adventure requires a lot of preparation before you depart. In this article we discuss the vaccinations and medications needed for your visit to Tanzania.
Please note we are not medical experts. The advice on this page is provided as an information only resource and should not be relied on for any diagnostic or preventative measures. We strongly advise you to seek professional medical advice at least 6 weeks prior to your departure.
Spread by the bite of a female mosquito, Yellow Fever is a viral disease in many parts of Africa.
Tanzania is not a high risk zone. However, if you are travelling to Tanzania via another Yellow Fever country, you may be required to present your Yellow Fever vaccination card. If you are simply staying in an airport on ftransit then this won't be required. If you plan on staying in Tanzania for a considerable amount of time, then we would recommend getting the Yellow Fever jab as mosquitoes are certainly common in the lower regions of the country.
Hepatitis A & B
It's better to be safe than sorry and, therefore, getting both Hep A and Hep B is a good idea. Both diseases can be transmitted in a number of ways, including contaminated food or water - particularly uncooked foods such as fruit, shellfish, ice, salad etc. You are at highest risk of Hep B if you work in healthcare, require medical treatment when out there or are sexually active with the local population.
Tanzania is a fairly low risk rabies zone. However, if you plan on staying for a longer period, particularly in the rural parts of Tanzania, then getting a rabies jab is probably a good option. Please consult with your doctor for more detailed advice.
If you have not had these injections in the last 10 years then it is highly recommended you get a booster for each.
Food hygiene standards in Tanzania can be lacking, getting a typhoid jab is highly recommended as Typhoid is spread via contaminated food and water.
Although not common, TB has been contracted by people visiting Tanzania. Contracted through airborne sputum, TB is higher risk for people under the age of 16 who are staying in Tanzania for an extended period of time. TB is also a higher risk to people under the age of 35 working in healthcare, or for anyone staying in Tanzania for long periods of time.
Trekkers should be fine without a cholera injection. However, if you working in Tanzania in healthcare of with an emergency relief agency, a cholera injection is highly recommended.
As the disease is spread through inhaling sputum, anyone who is planning on living, or working closely with Tanzanian people should get a measles jab.
General Medical Check-up
As well as taking care of yourself during your Kilimanjaro climb, It's always important to make sure you're fit and healthy before climbing Kilimanjaro! Therefore, we strongly advise that you see your GP in preparation for your trip.
A medical check-up is particularly important for anyone suffering from pre-existing medical conditions.
Caused by the bite of the anopheles mosquito, Malaria is a real problem in Tanzania, especially in the lower jungle and coastal regions where mosquitoes thrive.
Tanzania is determined as a high risk malaria zone and every precaution should therefore be taken in order to avoid the disease. Coastal towns such as Zanzibar have the highest risk, but inland towns such as Moshi and Arusha are still vulnerable (See Map below for malaria risk zones).
The good news for trekkers is that anopheles mosquitoes are not found at high altitudes. Over 2,000 metres, the anopheles mosquito is rarely seen and the only point which you are likely to get bitten is just before and after your trek when you are at sea level. This is particularly true at night when the anopheles mosquito is most active.
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your chances of getting bitten. Here are 5 suggestions:
Wear mosquito repellent - the best repellent contains a high concentration of DEET
Stay indoors when the sun goes down
Apply mosquito repellent not only to your skin, but to your clothes and bedding also
Use a mosquito net at night to protect your bedding
Wear long-sleeve shirts and trousers - try to make your clothes as light a colour as possible as mosquitoes are attracted to darker shades
Take anti-malarial drugs - see your GP for this
Remember, it only takes one single bite from a mosquito to contract the disease. The only fool-proof way of avoiding malaria is to take anti-malaria drugs or prophylaxis.
There are a number of anti-malaria drugs on the market and it is always best to consult your doctor as to which one is best suited to you. The type of anti-malaria drug you use will depend very much on your age, length of stay and how a particular type of drug fares in different regions.
When considering anti-malarial drugs, there are three main drugs to consider: Malarone, Doxycycline and Mefloquine.
Mefloquine has a number of brand names including Lariam, Mephaquin and Mefliam. Of all the drugs mentioned above, Lariam is probably the most popular (although many people complain of side effects such as hallucinations and nightmares when using Lariam). Lariam is taken once a week and a full course of the drug is needed to make sure it is fully effective. It is always recommended to test the drug several weeks before leaving to make sure you don't suffer any side-effects. Research has suggested that taking Lariam increases a person's likelihood of getting Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), however, this is not conclusive. The side effects of Lariam will often emulate mountain sickness which may be the cause of this belief.
Malarone, although more expensive, seems to have fewer side effects and may be a good option for people concerned about Lariam. As always, we recommend seeking professional medical advice before taking any of these drugs.
References: 1. CDC Website