Food and waterborne
diseases are the number one cause of illness in
diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria,
or parasites, which are found throughout Central
Africa and can contaminate food or water. Infections
may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella,
and parasites), fever (typhoid
fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage
(hepatitis). Make sure your food and drinking water
are safe (See below).
Malaria is a serious,
but preventable infection that can be fatal. Your risk
of malaria may be high in these countries, including
cities. Prevent this deadly disease by seeing your
health care provider for a prescription antimalarial
drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites
below). All travelers to Central Africa,
including infants, children, and former residents of
Central Africa, may be at risk for malaria. All
travelers should take one of the following drugs
(listed alphabetically): atovaquone/proguanil,
doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine (in special
circumstances). See Malaria
information for Travelers to Central Africa
for detailed information on malaria-risk areas and
antimalarial drugs. See also Preventing
Malaria in the Pregnant Woman (Information for the
Public) and Preventing
Malaria in Infants and Children (Information for the
A certificate of yellow
fever vaccination may be required for entry
into certain of these countries. For detailed
information, see Comprehensive
Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements.
are other diseases carried by insects that also occur
in this region. Protecting yourself against insect
below) will help to prevent these diseases.
An outbreak of sleeping
sickness (trypanosomiasis) has been reported in
southern Sudan. (See
below for suggestions to protect yourself against
a parasitic infection, is found in fresh water in this
region. Do not swim in fresh water (except in
well-chlorinated swimming pools) in Central African
countries. (For more information, please see the Swimming
Precautions on the Making
Travel Safe page.)
Because motor vehicle
crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers,
walk and drive defensively. Avoid nighttime travel if
possible and always use seat belts.
CDC recommends the
following vaccines (as appropriate for age):
See your doctor at
least 46 weeks before your trip to allow time for
shots to take effect.
A or immune globulin (IG).
B, if you might be exposed to blood (for
example, health-care workers), have sexual contact
with the local population, stay longer than 6
months, or be exposed through medical treatment.
(meningitis), if you plan to visit Central
African Republic, Chad, and Sudan (see
meningitis map), from December through June.
fever, if you plan to travel anywhere outside
if you might be exposed to wild or domestic
animals through your work or recreation.
particularly if you are visiting developing
countries in this region.
- As needed, booster
doses for tetanus-diphtheria,
and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults. Hepatitis
B vaccine is now recommended for all infants
and for children ages 1112 years who did not
receive the series as infants.
To stay healthy,
- Wash hands often
with soap and water.
- Drink only bottled
or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in
cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks,
and ice cubes. If this is not possible, make water
safer by BOTH filtering through an absolute
1-micron or less filter AND adding iodine
tablets to the filtered water. Absolute
1-micron filters are found in camping/outdoor
- Eat only
thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables
you have peeled yourself. Remember: boil it,
cook it, peel it, or forget it.
- Take your malaria
prevention medication before, during, and
after travel, as directed. (See your health care
provider for a prescription.)
yourself from mosquito bites:
- Pay special
attention to mosquito protection between dusk
and dawn. This is when the type of mosquito
whose bite transmits malaria is active.
long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Use insect
repellents that contain DEET
- Read and
follow the directions and precautions on the
- Apply insect
repellent to exposed skin.
- Do not put
repellent on wounds or broken skin.
- Do not breathe
in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is
toxic if swallowed). If using a spray product,
apply DEET to your face by spraying your hands
and rubbing the product carefully over the
face, avoiding eyes and mouth.
- Unless you are
staying in air-conditioned or well-screened
housing, purchase a bed net impregnated with
the insecticide permethrin or deltamethrin.
Or, spray the bed net with one of these
insecticides if you are unable to find a
pretreated bed net.
- DEET may be
used on adults, children, and infants older
than 2 months of age. Protect infants by using
a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an
elastic edge for a tight fit.
- Children under
10 years old should not apply insect repellent
themselves. Do not apply to young childrens
hands or around eyes and mouth.
- For details on
how to protect yourself from insects and how
to use repellents, see Protection
against Mosquitoes and Other Arthropods.
- To prevent fungal
and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry,
and do not go barefoot.
- Always use latex
condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other
sexually transmitted diseases.
To avoid getting
- Dont eat food
purchased from street vendors.
- Dont drink
beverages with ice.
- Dont eat dairy
products unless you know they have been
- Dont share
needles with anyone.
- Dont handle
animals (especially monkeys, dogs, and cats), to
avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies
(For more information, please see the Animal-Associated
Hazards on the Making
Travel Safe page.)
- Dont swim in
fresh water. Salt water is usually safer. (For
more information, please see the Swimming
Precautions on the Making
Travel Safe page.)
need to bring with you:
shirt, long pants, and a hat to wear whenever
possible while outside, to prevent illnesses
carried by insects (e.g., malaria,
- Insect repellent
- Bed nets
impregnated with permethrin. (Can be purchased in
camping or military supply stores. Overseas,
permethrin or another insecticide, deltamethrin,
may be purchased to treat bed nets and clothes.)
spray or mosquito coils to help clear rooms of
mosquitoes. The product should contain a
pyrethroid insecticide; these insecticides quickly
kill flying insects, including mosquitoes.
antidiarrheal medicine to take if you have
- Iodine tablets and
portable water filters to purify water if bottled
water is not available. See Dos
above for more detailed information about water
medications: make sure you have enough to last
during your trip, as well as a copy of the
After you return
If you have visited a
malaria-risk area, continue taking your antimalarial
drug for 4 weeks (mefloquine or doxycycline) or seven
days (atovaquone/proguanil) after leaving the risk
always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness.
If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness
either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after
you return home (for up to1 year), you should seek immediate
medical attention and should tell the physician your
Ask your doctor or
check CDC web sites for more information about how to
protect yourself against diseases that occur in
Central Africa, including the following:
For more information
about these and other diseases, please check the Diseases