Health & Safety

Vaccines

CHI will be going over vaccinations in more detail during the orientation/parent night, but you should still consult your doctor for more information. It is your responsibility to ensure that your routine immunizations are up-to-date.

Kenya recommends that travelers be up-to-date on routine immunizations. Routine immunizations are defined as:

  • Tetanus-diptheria-pertussis (DTP)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Polio
  • Chicken pox (Varicella)
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
  • Influenza


In addition, both Kenya and the U.S. CDC recommend the following vaccinations. In some cases these vaccines are required for visa or entry into the country. 

  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever


Some immunizations require a series or spacing for protection (as long as three months for a series of shots), so allow as much time as possible for immunization. Please refer to the CDC's website for additional information on vaccines.

Malaria

Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases progressing to coma or death. It is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, including much of sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya.

Almost all travelers on short and medium duration trips to malarial areas are prescribed anti-malarial pills, which generally provide a high level of protection. There are also several practical measures that you can take to further reduce the chances of infection, as well as avoid the general discomfort of mosquito bites.

There is presently no vaccination against malaria, but it can usually be prevented by taking a course of malaria prophylaxis pills, usually prescribed by a doctor.

All participants are REQUIRED to get a prescription for anti-malarial medication and take as prescribed for the duration of the trip. The only exception to this policy is for medical or religious reasons.

It should be noted that if diagnosed and treated promptly, malaria usually does not represent as serious a threat to health as one might imagine. However if left untreated, malaria can quickly become a potential killer. Awareness leading to prompt and appropriate action is the key.

For more information about malaria, please refer to the CDC’s website concerning malaria.

There are several different types of anti-malaria prophylaxis pills. The appropriateness of each depends on what your doctor recommends.

Malarone, a mix of atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride, is what CHI recommends most often. It is generally regarded as being more effective than any other drug against malaria. It only needs to be taken for a two days before and seven days after the trip and is therefore well suited for shorter trips, although it is said that it can be used for up to three months. We have noticed little to no side effects. The pills are quite expensive though, usually working out around $5 to $10 per day for cash paying.

Lariam, whose active component is mefloquine, was the drug most used before Malarone. However, recent studies have attributed Lariam to many side effects including nightmares, paranoia and other mind-altering experiences. The pills usually have to be taken for weeks before and after the trip. More serious side effects include depression or anxiety, sight or hearing issues, severe headaches, fits or changes in heart rhythms. CHI DOES NOT recommend Lariam.

Doxycycline is an antibiotic which tends to be recommended when both of the above are not considered appropriate. Like Malarone it only needs to be started a few days before departure. Unlike Malarone it can be used by travelers with epilepsy, although if they are taking any drugs for that condition then they may impair the level of protection. There is a 1% to 3% chance of allergic skin reactions developing in sunlight, in which case the drug needs to be stopped.

Chloroquine and Proguanil are rarely recommended these days since some mosquitoes have developed a resistance and the drug is therefore no longer offering effective protection. However they may still be considered if the above drugs are considered inappropriate.

Avoid Mosquitoes All Together

Just to re-emphasize, the most important thing that you can do to avoid malaria is to take malaria prophylaxis pills, as described above.

After that, the most important weapon in avoiding malaria is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes in the first place, especially between the hours of dusk and dawn. Here are our top tips:

  • From late afternoon you should change into clothes which cover your skin, including long pants/trousers and long sleeved shirts. Since many areas can be quite warm, it may be better to wear all-cotton clothing.
  • Cover all exposed skin with a strong insect repellent spray, preferably with 30% or 50% diethyltoluamide (DEET) as the active ingredient. Also bear in mind that mosquitoes will bite through thinner layers and are particularly active around floor level, so spray under your socks and on your lower legs. If you prefer to avoid synthetic chemicals then natural alternatives based on pyrethrum flowers or lemon grass (citronella) may also be effective.
  • You should avoid leaving lights on unnecessarily. Mosquitoes and other insects are attracted to bright lights and so you should avoid using them whenever practically possible. The most obvious thing is to avoid leaving the lights in your room on while you go to dinner in the evening, especially if you have the windows open.
  • Finally, always sleep under a good mosquito net. CHI will be providing every participant with a new mosquito net and it should be used whenever you are sleeping or resting in bed.

Disclaimer : Please note that all of the information on this page and elsewhere in the health section of our website is provided for information only. We suggest that you always refer to a health professional when seeking medical advice.

 

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