Travel Health Advice for Botswana
From the vast Kalahari desert which occupies 70 % of the country, to the semi-forested wetlands of the Okavango delta, to the abundant wildlife of Chobe national park – Botswana offers a great diversity of experiences.
The following information provides some broad and general guidelines about health risks and recommendations for travel to Botswana.It 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 some things not mentioned here.
Most Common Health Issues
Travellers’ Diarrhoea, Giardia and Dysentery
Observe strict food and water safety precautions and hand hygiene. Consider taking a water filter and well stocked kit with guidelines for self-treatment. Seek medical advice if persistent or severe illness, particularly for infants, the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions.
Africa has the greatest number of malaria cases of any continent. Most cases are falciparum malaria, the most serious form. Mosquito avoidance is essential. Transmission is highest from November through to June. Preventative medication should be discussed with one of our doctors. Different options are available. We have access to the most up to date malaria maps and the experience 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.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Southern African countries have the highest rates of HIV in the world. Avoid the risk. STD checks are available on return.
Animal Bites and Wounds
Avoid being bitten or scratched by any mammal. Consider pre-travel rabies vaccination (well before travel), especially for prolonged or remote travel through Africa. Thoroughly rinse and disinfect any animal wound and seek prompt medical care for post exposure vaccination and wound care.
Schistosomiasis (otherwise known as Bilharzia)
Caused by a microscopic parasite in lakes and rivers, which penetrate the skin. Its life cycle leads to migration in different stages through various organs over weeks to months, leading to chronic infection. Avoid skin contact with fresh water. If exposed, a test and if required treatment are available on return to Australia.
African Tick Bite Fever
Mainly a risk for those going on Safari in the east of the country especially from November to April. Mozzie repellents are only partially effective, so keeping covered up and checking skin regularly for ticks is essential.
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 – hepatitis A, typhoid, rabies, cholera and influenza. Decisions regarding which are most appropriate depend on duration and nature of travel, itinerary, age underlying medical conditions and past vaccination.