Health Advice for Kenya Travelers
Before traveling to Kenya, it’s crucial to get good health advice. Kenya has a quite lengthy list of diseases and health dangers, but if you prepare well and use common sense, your stay should be trouble-free.
This page tells you about some common health dangers and precautions. However, this information is not meant as a substitute for advice by a qualified physician. Your specific situation may require a tailored approach. It’s best to visit your doctor or a travel health clinic 8 weeks before departure, to get advice geared towards your specific situation.
If you stick to this health advice, Kenya trips should be trouble free:
- Vaccinations: Getting the right vaccinations in time and taking the right medication (against malaria, among others). See my
page for the most common diseases and vaccinations.
- Food safety: Drinking bottled water only and avoiding questionable food. It's generally good when foods are thoroughly cooked and still piping hot when served. Bad foods are, among others, raw or half-raw meat, unpasteurized milk and anything that’s made from it, such as ice cream and dairy products. Questionable foods, among others, are raw vegetables and fruits that aren’t peeled. Watch out with street vendors. Through unhygienic food, travelers’ diarrhea (the most common health problem for travelers), Hepatitis A and cholera are spread.
- Mosquito bites: Avoid them! Infected mosquitoes spread malaria and yellow fever. You can protect yourself by sleeping under a mosquito net, covering arms and legs during the day (with white clothes – they also protect against the sun), using insect repellant containing DEET on uncovered body parts, and in the case of malaria, taking preventive anti-malaria drugs.
- Sun protection: Kenya is right at the equator and the sun is steaming hot throughout the year - so protect yourself against it. Wear a hat and sunglasses, use protective sun cream and/or cover your arms and legs. Most Kenyans always cover arms and legs for cultural reasons, though you won’t get into trouble if you don’t. Also drink lots of bottled water which is available everywhere – pure water is better than soda, coffee and tea, etc.
- Avoid unsafe sex: Though the good news is that HIV is declining in Kenya, it’s still widespread (most figures say around 5% of the population). See my page about
HIV & AIDS in Kenya.
Hepatitis B, another sexually transmitted disease, is present too.
- Lakes and rivers: Don’t swim in or wade through slow-moving or still lakes and rivers if you don’t trust them. Bilharzia is spread this way. This only goes for fresh water, not the ocean. More information is in my
list of diseases in Kenya.
- Altitude changes: When climbing or hiking in high altitudes (i.e. Mount Kenya or Mount Elgon), avoiding sudden altitude changes. Mount Kenya can be climbed for the largest part by regular hiking, but don't underestimate it. Also note that the higher you climb, the colder it gets - there's permanent ice at the summits of Mount Kenya.
Again, health is not a reason not to travel. Our planet is too beautiful to let a few diseases spoil it. Just follow good health advice in Kenya and you should have the trip of a lifetime.
Diseases and Health Dangers in Kenya Listed
AIDS & HIV in Kenya
Kenya Travel - Practical Information
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