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 antimalaria drugs and protecting yourself against mosquito bites. Most travelers should take chloroquine to prevent malaria. Depending on the areas visited in Africa is how high the chances are to contract malaria.
In Northern Africa, certain parts of Algeria, Egypt (El Faiyum area only), Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Western Sahara and Morocco have limited risk. There is no risk for travelers visiting the major tourist areas in North Africa, including Nile cruises. For more detailed information about the risk in specific locations, see Malaria in North Africa.
If traveling to Central Africa BEWARE. There is a high risk for malaria which exists all year in all parts of these countries, including the cities. For more detailed information about the risk in specific locations, see Malaria in Central Africa.
In Southern Africa, travelers should take mefloquine to prevent malaria. Risk for malaria exists all year in the northern part of Botswana, rural areas of South Africa, all non-mountainous areas of Swaziland and all areas of Zimbabwe except the cities of Harare and Bulawayo. There is no reported risk for travelers visiting Lesotho and St. Helena. For more detailed information about risk in specific locations, see Malaria in Southern Africa.
Most travelers to malaria risk areas in this region should take mefloquine to prevent malaria. You can be infected with malaria in all areas of this region except the cities of Addis Ababa, Ismara and Nairobi, the islands of Reunion and Seychelles and in highland areas above 2,500 meters. For more detailed information about the risk in specific locations, see Malaria in East Africa.
If traveling to West Africa, your risk of malaria is high in all parts of these countries, including cities, except for most of the Cape Verde Islands. For more detailed information about the risk in specific locations, see Malaria in West Africa.
A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain countries if you are coming from a country in tropical South America or sub-Saharan Africa. (There is no risk for yellow fever in North Africa.) For detailed information, see Yellow Fever Comprehensive Vaccination Requirements.
Filariasis, leishmaniasis and onchocerciasis are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region, but the risk to travelers is low. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases.
Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in the region, including the Nile River. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in these countries.
Because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers, walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if possible and always use seat belts.
If you have visited an area where there is risk for malaria, continue taking your malaria medication weekly for 4 weeks after you leave the area.
If you become ill after your trip—even as long as a year after you return—tell your doctor where you have traveled.
Ask your doctor or check the Centers for Disease Control Web site for more information about how to protect yourself against diseases that occur in Africa.
Be sure to read the information about all the regions you are planning to visit.
CDC Travel Page
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30333
(404) 639-3312 (TTY)