Health and Illness

Medical Insurance and treatment costs:

Health insurance is highly recommended for all travelers. In Nairobi there are excellent hospitals with modern, very often, state of the art facilities; however, costs are high. General Practice and Dental services are also of a high standard if you go to the right places, but again, these are also expensive. An initial consultation with a GP would be approximately £30/$50/€55. Any tests or medication would be in addition to this. There are a good number of chemists and many are open 24 hours a day. Many prescription drugs are available over the counter from chemists without a prescription.

(See “planning your trip” in the travel section)

Drinking water
Tap water is not safe to drink so drink bottled water or boiled/purified water instead.

Mosquitoes carry malaria at the coast and in low-lying areas. It’s therefore a good idea to wear mosquito repellent and cover up in the evening by wearing long sleeves and trousers. If you do get malaria, the symptoms can be a high raging fever in between feelings of having cold chills. Delirium, backache and intense headache are also signs of malaria but can also indicate other illnesses and not all these symptoms will necessarily be evident. Seek medical advice immediately if you suspect malaria, as it can be a killer if left untreated.

Biharzia (Schistosomiasis)
This is contracted through swimming in stagnant infected waters; lake Victoria and many smaller lakes in Kenya are infected. It causes fever, a bronchial cough, a skin rash and abdominal pain. The cure is through a single dose of drugs. Make sure you swim in clean, clear running mountain streams and in the middle of lakes should be fine

Altitude Sickness
If climbing Mount Kenya , please be aware that acute altitude sickness can strike from about 3000m onwards (Mount Kenya is 5,199m high, Mount Elgon is 4332m, Longonot is 2886m and Nairobi is 1870m). Symptoms are: pounding heart and shortness of breath especially on exertion, and over time will come on slowly with lack of appetite, heartache, dizziness, nausea vomiting, insomnia and a suffocating feeling when lying down in bed. To prevent getting altitude sickness, ascend very slowly and don’t rush at it! Trust your guide if he tells you to slow down! To cure it, rest and take pain killers (not aspirin) and if symptoms are severe, you will have to descend and then reascend if you feel better.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Unprotected sex is a very dangerous game, which can easily lead to HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and a whole host of other very nasty STD’s. Safe sex is absolutely essential in Kenya no matter who you’re sleeping with. (i.e. use a condom, a femidom or avoid having sex altogether). Sub Saharan Africa (and Kenya falls into this region) has the highest number of AIDS casualties in the world, and you’ll find many of them eager to give you the Nairobi handshake (and more) in clubs and bars!

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