Travel Health Advice for Rwanda
This small landlocked Central African country sits just south of the equator. Australians visit mainly for treks to see the mountain gorillas, often as part of a multicountry African itinerary.
The following information provides some broad and general guidelines about health risks and recommendations for travel to Rwanda . 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 observe good hand hygiene. Consider taking a comprehensive medical and first aid kit with guidelines for use. Those with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women / the elderly or young should speak to their doctor or us about the wisdom of trekking to remote locations often visited in Rwanda. Medical facilities are extremely limited and not up to Western standards.
Risk is high year round below 2500m. Most cases are falciparum malaria, the most serious form. 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 risk areas requires assessment and an urgent blood test to exclude malaria, whether or not preventive medication has been taken.
Caused by microscopic parasite in lakes (such as Lake Kivu) 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
Animal bites & wounds
Avoid being bitten or scratched by any mammal. Consider pre-travel rabies vaccination, especially if travelling more extensively through Africa. Thoroughly rinse and disinfect any animal wound and seek prompt medical care for post exposure vaccination and wound care.
Sexually transmitted diseases
Avoid the risk of HIV of this and other STD’s, which are all of much higher risk in Africa than Australia.
Motor vehicle accidents and security
Risk is highest on secondary roads. Avoid minibuses/motorbikes/unlicensed taxis especially at night. Be aware of personal security. Avoid travel within 10 km of neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi because of armed conflict. Follow the Australian government’s Smartraveller website for up to date information.
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, influenza. Yellow fever, and an international certificate of vaccination will be required if arriving from or travelling to adjacent countries where transmission occurs. Decisions regarding which vaccines are most appropriate depend on duration and nature of travel, itinerary, age, underlying medical conditions and past vaccination.