5 diseases to protect against when travelling in Africa

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These days more and more people are choosing to holiday in Africa, this is largely due to the availability of cheaper and more easily accessible flights. There is so much on offer for visitors to this magnificent continent, such as a huge range of wildlife and flora, enchanting cities, and unique scenery have all contributed to the increase in popularity of African holidays. In the UK the childhood vaccination programme protects you against a number of diseases, but these don’t include some of the deadly, infectious diseases found overseas. Which is why it is always important to ensure you are fully vaccinated, it advisable to visit a vaccination clinic in London to ensure that you are properly protected. What follows is a look at 5 diseases that you should ensure you are protected against when travelling in Africa.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease that affects the liver, many cases those infected display no symptoms especially in the young. The spread of hepatitis A is usually due to the eating or drinking of food or water that has been contaminated with hepatitis A infected feces. It is also possible that it can be spread through close contact with an infected person. Hepatitis A is infection is estimated to be high in all member states of the African region, despite the fact that a vaccine has been available for around 20 years.


Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis that attacks the thin lining protecting the brain and spine. The area of Sub-Saharan Africa ranging from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east has the highest rates of the disease, and as such has earned the nickname of the ‘meningitis belt’. Close and prolonged contact such as kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone is the primary means of infection between people, and as such it is imperative that people are vaccinated.


Diphtheria in Africa often occurs mostly sporadic cases or in small outbreaks. The disease primarily infects the throat and upper airways, and produces a toxin affecting other organs. The diphtheria toxin causes a membrane of dead tissue to build up over the infected individual’s throat and tonsils, which makes breathing and swallowing difficult. Despite being easily preventable and treatable it is prevalent in poorer regions of the world, such as Africa, due to the fact that the medicine to treat it is no longer in production and supplies of it are aging and dwindling.

Yellow Fever

The risk of outbreaks of yellow fever in Africa is predominantly in built-up areas. While yellow fever is only a short illness the symptoms are highly unpleasant and include fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, and muscle pains. If you are planning on visiting an urban area it is important to ensure you are vaccinated.


It is estimated that rabies kills approximately 23,000 people a year in Africa, many of whom contract this from wild animals. Rabies can be fatal if left untreated and as such it is imperative that you are adequately protected, especially if you plan on visiting an area with a lot of wild animals.

It important to consider whether you will require any of these immunisations for any trips to Africa you are considering making, there is a vaccination clinic in London that will be able to assist you with your enquiries.

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