There is a requirement to take some basic precautions while you are in Uganda due to different types of bacteria and viruses that can lead to various stomach complaints, and other medical conditions. With a little thought and remaining vigilant you can reduce the risk of most issues to a minimum. The following guidelines can be added to from numerous websites on the subject of being well in Africa:
- Stay in hotels and safari lodges that are safe with high standards of food hygiene and only clean water will be used for ice and washing salads etc… It‟s always a good idea to enquire regardless.
- Go to a travel clinic at least 3 months prior to your vacation. You may require a number of inoculations that will need to spread out.
- Avoid local water, including brushing your teeth with it, opening your mouth in the shower, having ice in drinks and washed salad. You are unlikely to be here long enough to build a tolerance to the different bacteria in the water. Bottled water is readily available in Uganda but make sure you are served it with the lid sealed.
- Buffets and reheated meals are a breeding ground for bacteria and pathogens in hot, humid environments. Avoid rice that may not be freshly cooked, sauces that may be reheated or are kept warm with candles and chicken where you are not assured it is freshly (and very well) cooked. Street food is a risky business unless you want to spend considerable time on the WC.
- If you are staying longer, prepare your own meals. With food there is the old saying that will help you stay well “If you can peel it, wash it yourself, or it is not freshly cooked, avoid it!”
- Water intake needs to be really increased while in Uganda due to the heat, altitude and to allow your body to work to it‟s optimum. Buying a solid 1L drinking bottle is a really good way to ensure you drink enough and don‟t get confused over bottles. As a rule, you should consume a bare minimum of 2 litres a day while some people manage 5+ litres! Expedition doctors often talk about looking at your urine to ensure you remain hydrated. You should pass at least 1litre of clear urine a day if you are well hydrated. Anything other than clear urine is an indication of dehydration.
- Avoid fruit salads, fresh salads, or juice where water may be added. Obviously, if you can assure any of these are washed with bottled water then it is up to you.
- Soda‟s are generally served in returnable glass bottles. Using a straw will mean you can assure the dirt of the outside is not ingested.
- Medical issues that arise can generally be dealt with in Uganda safely and easily. Unlike most Western Countries drugs and anti-biotic are not controlled through prescription and can be generally bought over the counter. Do not assume that just because you can buy it, it must be safe to take. If you have a condition you would normally see a doctor for in your home country, go and see a doctor in Uganda.
Consider Malaria as a very real threat at all time and take the following precautions to reduce the risk on contracting this painful and reoccurring disease to a minimum:
- Cover up with long trousers and long sleeves ½ an hour before dusk and for ½ an hour after 1st light.
- Always use a mosquito net at night time, despite what you may be told by the locals- it needs to be tucked into the mattress and your skin should not touch the net during the night. Most hotels and safari lodges will have mosquito nets so there is no requirement to carry your own.
- Using mosquito repellent with at least 50% DEET is very advisable.
- Often mosquito‟s hang around under the seats in vehicles and other dark places meaning you may find you ankles get bitten if you are in shorts and sandals while travelling!
- Ensure you take the advised malarial medication before, during and after your time in Uganda.