Travel Health Advice for Ethiopia
Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country (over 100 million people), is unique among African countries in having a majority Christian population, with a diverse and rugged lanscape including ancient christian churches cut out from rock. The country has had an unfortunate recent hisory of war and famine.
The following information provides some broad and general guidelines about health risks and recommendations for travel to Ethiopia. This should not be taken as a substitute for a personal consultation with one of our travel health doctors, whose advice will be specific for you and your trip and may include other issues not mentioned here.
Most Common Health Issues
Travellers’ Diarrhoea & Respiratory Illness
Observe strict food and water safety precautions and hand hygiene. Consider taking a water filter and well stocked kit with guidelines for treatment. Seek medical advice/evacuation if persistent or severe illness, particularly for infants, the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions.
The disease is widespread at altitudes below 2500m, with the exception of the capital Addis Ababa (2300m). Most cases are falciparum malaria, the most serious form. Risk of this mosquito borne parasite depends on itinerary and season. Mosquito avoidance is essential. Preventative medication should be discussed with one of our doctors. Different options are available. We have malaria maps and knowledge to help guide this decision making process. Any fever after travel to malaria areas requires assessment and an urgent blood test to exclude malaria, whether or not preventive medication has been taken.
Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements and Recommendations
This is a very serious but rare mosquito borne disease. Australian travellers to Ethiopia require vaccination for re-entry to Australia. An internationally recognised certificate is issued as proof of vaccination and should be presented when requested at border crossings and on return to Australia. An exemption certificate can be provided where there are medical contraindications to this vaccine, in which case the individual is not protected against the disease so must weigh up the risks.
African countries have the highest rates of HIV in the world. Avoid the risk. STD checks are available on return.
Animal bites & wounds
Avoid being bitten or scratched by any mammal. Consider pre-travel rabies vaccination (well before travel). Thoroughly rinse and disinfect any animal wound and seek prompt medical care for post exposure vaccination and wound care.
Schistosomiasis (otherwise known as Bilharzia)
Schistosomiasis is caused by microscopic parasite in lakes and rivers which penetrate the skin. The lifecycle leads to migration in different stages through various organs over weeks to months, leading to chronic infection. Avoid skin contact with slow moving fresh water. If exposed a test, and if required treatment, are available on return to Australia.
Travellers should be up to date for routine childhood vaccines such as tetanus, measles and hepatitis B. Any of the following vaccines may also be recommended – hep A, typhoid, rabies, cholera, meningitis, influenza and Yellow Fever (see above). Decisions regarding which are most appropriate depend on duration and nature of travel, itinerary, age, underlying medical conditions and past vaccination.