Tanzania Disease

By , Travel Insights Editor Tanzania africa, tanzania, travel-health

Tanzania like most countries in East Africa is a hot bed of disease. Like anywhere in Africa take precautions before and during your travel. You’ll be happy you did, when you aren’t lying in a Tanzanian hospital bed.

here's a rundown on what could get you.... if you're not careful.


Malaria is common to Tanzania. The sad news is, if you stay a lengthy period of time in the country, you are most likely to suffer a bout on your stay. Malaria is certainly a killer, but it rarely claims the life of travellers. The existence of anti-malarial drugs in hospitals means you can take a tablet and suffer just a few days of bad health.

Most travellers take precautions for malaria and drugs like Malarone resdily available in all Western countries.

But anti-malarial drugs have a downside, nausea, fainting and psychological affects are common for those taking the drugs. 

Most doctors advise taking the medication for only a few months, which doesn’t help if you are destined for a year-long stay in Africa.

Some good advice with dealing with malaria – cover up at night, use mosquito nets and during the day wear long, loose-fitting clothing ,covering exposed skin in repellent to avoid being bitten.

What Else?

Tanzania has a myriad of other bad bugs you need to avoid.

Sleeping Sickness

There have also been recent cases of sleeping sickness occurring after bites from tsetse flies in Northern parts of Tanzania, including the Serengeti.

Cover up and try not to wear dark blues – the tsetse fly is attracted to dark blue.


Cholera (of which approximately 4000 cases were reported by the end of October 2009) and rift valley fever occur periodically, largely in rural areas where access to sanitation is limited.

Drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. If you suffer from diarrhoea during or after a visit to Tanzania seek medical attention immediately. 


This disease is a risk throughout Tanzania. It’s spread by flukes (parasitic flatworm) that are carried by a species of freshwater snail, which then sheds them into slow moving or still water.

The parasites penetrate human skin during swimming and then migrate to the bladder or bowel. They are excreted via stool or urine and could contaminate fresh water, where the cycle starts again.

Swimming in suspect freshwater lakes (including Lake Victoria) or slow-running rivers should be avoided.

Symptoms range from none to transient fever and rash, and advanced cases might have blood in the stool or in the urine. A blood test can detect antibodies if you might have been exposed, and treatment is readily available. If not treated, the infection can cause kidney failure or permanent bowel damage.


The AIDS/HIV infection rate is sky high.

When travelling be careful with open cuts and practice safe sex.

Altitude Sickness

Just a quick note for anyone wanting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro: If you do decide to climb the mighty peak, prepare well and be aware of the affects of altitude.

Altitude sickness is caused by ascending too rapidly, which doesn't allow the body enough time to adjust to reduced oxygen and changes in air pressure. Symptoms include headache, vomiting, insomnia and drop in performance and coordination. In severe cases, fluid can build up within the lungs, brain or both, which can be fatal. First aid options include descending immediately, medications and the use of oxygen administered from a portable container.


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