We have compiled this information for you from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/rwanda) for your easy reference as a traveler planning to visit Rwanda / East Africa.
Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need.
Routine vaccines: Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.
Yellow Fever: Health recommendation: Yellow fever is a risk in Rwanda, so CDC recommends this vaccine for all travelers who are 9 months of age or older. Country entry requirement: The government of Rwanda requires proof of yellow fever vaccination for all travelers, except infants.
*Yellow Fever Update (2/28/2017): If you have been immunized once for Yellow Fever, you may have lifetime immunity. Your travel clinic physician can advise you based on your personal health profile. If you are covered for life, the clinic may update your yellow card to indicate “valid for life” as well as provide a letter of exemption to ensure that you are not immunized on site.
Get travel vaccines and medicines because there is a risk of these diseases in the country you are visiting.
Hepatitis A: CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Rwanda, regardless of where you are eating or staying.
Malaria: You will need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria. Your doctor can help you decide which medicine is right for you, and also talk to you about other steps you can take to prevent malaria.
Typhoid: You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Rwanda. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.
Ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the US.
Hepatitis B: You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so CDC recommends this vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures.
Rabies: Rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in Rwanda, so CDC recommends this vaccine for the following groups:
- Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities (such as camping, hiking, biking, adventure travel, and caving) that put them at risk for animal bites.
- People who will be working with or around animals (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, and researchers).
- People who are taking long trips or moving to Rwanda
- Children, because they tend to play with animals, might not report bites, and are more likely to have animal bites on their head and neck.
Food and waterborne diseases are the number one cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout the region and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage (hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water are safe.
Malaria is a preventable infection that can be fatal if left untreated. Prevent infection by taking prescription antimalarial drugs and protecting yourself against mosquito bites (see below). Travelers to East Africa should take one of the following antimalarial drugs: mefloquine, doxycycline, or Malarone(tm). Your risk of malaria may be high in these countries, including cities.
To stay healthy, do…
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.
- Eat only thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables that hve been peeled. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
- If you travel to an area where there is risk for malaria, take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your doctor for a prescription.)
- Protect yourself from insects by remaining in wellscreened areas, using repellents (applied sparingly at 4hour intervals) and mosquito nets, and wearing longsleeved shirts and long pants from dusk through dawn.
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot.
- Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
To avoid getting sick…
- Don’t eat food purchased from street vendors.
- Don’t drink beverages with ice.
- Don’t eat dairy products unless you know they have been pasteurized.
- Don’t share needles with anyone.
- Don’t handle animals (especially monkeys, dogs, and cats), to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague).
- Don’t swim in fresh water, including Lake Malawi. Salt water is usually safer.
What you need to bring with you…
- Longsleeved shirts and long pants to wear while outside whenever possible, to prevent illnesses carried by insects (e.g., malaria, dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis).
- Insect repellent containing DEET (diethylmethyltoluamide), in 30%–35% strength for adults and 6%–10% for children.
- Overthecounter antidiarrheal medicine to take if you have diarrhea.
- Iodine tablets and water filters to purify water if bottled water is not available.
- Sunblock, sunglasses, hat.
- Prescription medications: make sure you have enough to last during your trip, as well as a copy of the prescription(s).