Travel health in Egypt
Why ensure travel health safety
When travelling to any new destination internationally, visiting a personal physician or travel health clinic at least four weeks before departure is always recommended. This can help you get aware about the common ailments and get vaccinations and immunization to ensure you do not catch the infection or illnesses that commonly prevail in the country or the place you are travelling.
Travelling to a new destination can be very relaxing and enjoyable if we follow some common sense steps and take our medical kit along, which contains all the necessary things. Also, a medical travel insurance can be of great use, especially take one which can guarantee repatriation in your home country as well, if the need arises on continuing medication or treatment after returning back to your home.
When travelling to Egypt
Travelers to Egypt must take a yellow fever vaccination without fail and is recommended for all those who are older than one year of age. Generally, no other vaccinations are needed. Hepatitis C is at highest incidence in Egypt but the infection can spread only when sharing contaminated needles, so make sure you stay away from something like this to ensure safety.
Another important factor that you should look for is preparation for heat protection which means carrying lot of sunblock and drinking lot of water than can keep you hydrated all the time. Only bottled water must be used as waters in the Egyptian cities is said to be highly chlorinated. Also, there should be ample care taken when eating out to prevent the occurrence of travelers’ diarrhea, which is a very common health concern that most people face when travelling to a new country. Water of river Nile should not be drunk. Medical treatment can be very expensive sometimes so taking insurance must always be on your cards. Also, medical facilities that are good are accessible only in some major cities of Egypt.
Health During your Egypt Tour
Many tourists have health concerns when travelling in other countries and these usually revolve around the cleanliness of the water, the safety of the food, potential illnesses and the standard of hospital care. Keep reading and we will give you the facts on these as well as some conclusions from our long experience in leading tours.
When visiting Egypt don't drink the tap water As it is highly chlorinated. However, this water is only safe to drink if you got used to it and if you are willing to live in Egypt for a long time; then it should be ok. This doesn't mean that the tap water is polluted, it simply means that you are not used to it, and you might get stomach problems. The same thing happened to me when I was visiting UK once and attempted to drink the tap water, I got stomach cramps!! I was simply not used to water there. So, my dear traveller, it is the same situation for you in Egypt. It is advisable to drink bottled water during your entire holiday. That is why I would advise strongly that you don't drink the tap water, and use it only for washing and brushing your teeth.
Tourists are often advised not to eat the many fresh fruits or vegetables; but this means missing out on some of the best taste sensations you will ever have ! In Egypt, it is safe to eat fruit and vegetables, as long as the food has been washed correctly! You will find that any good hotel or cruise boat will wash them before cooking, so don't worry! Avoid eating them in really cheap places or local outlets, if you wish to eat local food, stick with Falafel, or what Egyptians called Tammia, preferably from a known place such as the restaurants on the streets of Downtown. Tammia is very cheap, very safe and a very tasty food.
When you go on a Nile cruise you may get a diarrhoea due to many contributing factors, such as the class of boat you are staying in, the quality of food and cleanliness habits that you follow
Despite the fact that we always spend to fully brief the guests on the tips and tricks of a successful Egyptian holiday including all the health tips, before the cruise;
Then ...How come?
At this point, most people would assume that it was the food causing the problem; others would say it was the water! But I was always convinced that it was neither! Since we all ate the same food and we only drank bottled water, and a few of us still caught this “bug”, I decided to start to monitoring the eating habits of the groups more closely! Eventually I was able to find the real reasons for these illnesses, and they were:
1. The accommodation on the cruise boat is of a full board basis, and most of the time the meals are presented in an open buffet manner. I noticed that some of the passengers ate each meal as if it was their last! What they were doing was completely changing their eating habits, causing total overload on their stomach’s capacity. Not to mention that at least 5 to 7 items on the buffet are types of food totally new to them. I advised them to remember that the food, on the boat, is actually never ending, and they should be aware not to change their eating habits and take it easy.
2. Whenever we come back to the boat, after finishing a visit, some passengers would rush to their fully air-conditioned cabins and “crash” on their beds to rest. They forget that the air conditioning is on full power, and they are wet from walking. Here comes the danger! They easily catch cold, get back pain and their natural immune system becomes vulnerable, hence the sickness, diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration.
So the solution was simple! I stressed to them that they should not rush to their cabins after each tour, but to try and acclimatize first, by sitting for a while in the lobby before going to their cabins, and once in their cabin, they should turn the air-conditioning off immediately, turning it back on whenever the cabin became warm.
The results were amazing! In the following weeks, most of the time, none of my group members had any illnesses.
So, dear traveller, please remember the following if you go on a cruise boat:
Exposure to extreme heat and cold is bad for your immune system! Please take the time to acclimatize your body before going into your cabin!
You know what your stomach is like! Just because you are on holiday don’t treat it differently, if you have a sensitive stomach and tend to stay to a certain type of diet, try and do the same when you are Egypt. Err on the side of caution; you do not want to ruin a great holiday because you have eaten something you would never have tried at home. Some people are lucky, they seem to be able to consume anything and everything, others are ill by looking at a different food. You may feel brave by trying something different, but sometimes you are better by being a coward and enjoying your stay.
Also many forget to wash their hands before eating. this contribute a lot for cause of the sickness.
Once developed for cleaning the parts underneath a babies nappy / diaper, “Wet Wipes” (the small, damp, tissue usually bought in a plastic tub) are becoming more and more popular with adults. They are also very useful when travelling in Egypt. When you have felt the relief’s in a Temple, touched the hieroglyphs in a Tomb, caressed the stones on the Pyramids etc., you only have to take one of these wipes out to instantly clean your hands. No more looking for a washroom!
To cure many types of diarrhoea, there is an excellent antibiotic called Anitnall or Entoseed, ( local drug equivalent for the amodiom ) which works very fast on removing the worst of the symptoms, and putting you back on your feet.-You can buy them at any pharmacy without a prescription!
There is no malaria in Egypt!>Egypt hasn’t had a malaria case in the last 50 years. Some travelers may take these tablets during their stay and don’t realize that one of the many side effects of the tablets is diarrhoea!
So, my advice is not to don't take malaria tablets, simply you dont need them have often seen people ruin their whole trip because they were advised to take these tablets. They get diarrhoea daily basis and end up staying in bed, o while the rest of their party are enjoying themselves! Some tourists come to Egypt taking these tablets, because their doctor advised them to do so! Unfortunately too many doctors giving such advice promotly once they know that Egypt is located in Africa, So they immediately advise their patients to take these tablets, two weeks before commencing their trip.
Your Medical Care:
I would advise you to bring a supply of any medicines that you take regularly, and bring the prescription too. Feel safe in the knowledge that in the unlikely event of serious trouble, your hotel or cruise boat staff will find, and provide, a doctor for you instantly.
It is always a good idea to bring mosquito repellent for open-air night events, just to minimize the annoyance factor!
Summary of vaccines recommend when travelling to Egypt
- Hepatitis A- For all travelers
- Typhoid- For all travelers
- Yellow Fever- When travelling to a yellow-fever infected area is recommended
- Hepatitis B- For all travelers
- Rabies- For Traveler seeking for outdoor tours and who are at high risk of animal bites
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella- Two dose recommended for travelers who are born after 1956
- Tetanus- Diphtheria- Revaccination required after every 10 years
Precautions you must follow when travelling to Egypt
With food and water:
Tap water should not be drunk until the same has been boiled, filtered and disinfected chemically. Unbolted beverages or ice in the drinks is totally a no-no. Fruits and vegetables that are unpeeled or uncooked should be avoided. Foods that are no more hot should not be consumed. Unpasteurized milk and its products should be avoided. Street food should only be consumed if they serve regularly to foreign tourists. Uncooked or undercooked fish and meat must be avoided. Some fishes contain toxins even after cooking, so make sure they are not included in your food ever.
In case diarrhea starts, antibiotics and anti-diarrheal drugs must be immediately consumed. Antibiotics must also be taken to reduce the incidence of diarrhea and also to prevent further dehydration. In case it remains for 72 hours, do not delay in taking medical care immediately.
Insect and Tick protection:
When visiting off beaten tracks make sure you wear covered clothes and apply insect repellant always. DEET must be sprayed on clothes and tents. The window must be closed, especially if there is no-screen to bar the entry of insects. Using a bed net is highly recommended when sleeping in the outdoors. Using a mosquito coil can be useful as well. A tick check must be done when living in a rural area which should be removed with tweezers. Prompt tick removal can ensure safety from many tick-borne diseases.
Swimming and bathing precautions:
Rafting, wading and swimming in fresh water bodies like lakes, streams, ponds and rivers must be avoided. Also, Nile and its canals must not be explored by swimming. Walking barefoot on Nile shores is a no-no. Fresh water that has been heated to 150 degrees F should only be used for bathing and stay away from water that has been stored in a tank for more than three days. Toweling after exposure to unclean water can reduce the incidence of schistosomiasis and other bacterial infections; although it’s not a way to completely avoid the same. At Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea beaches there is no risk of this infection as these are clean and unpolluted.
General advice on Egypt travel health
Carrying adequate supplies of medications is necessary and seeking medical help before leaving can reduce the incidence of acquiring any illness to a large extent. Sun glasses, sun blocks, sun screens, insect repellants, a pocket knife, torch, pepper spray and more such things that can ensure your safety must always be carried in your hand purse. You can always check for the necessary medications that might prove very useful when travelling to Egypt and make sure you have packed all of these.
When travelling with children
Make sure you have contact information of doctors and clinics in case any emergency arrives. Childhood immunization for the children must be up to date. Take proper care on what children eat when travelling as they are very prone to diarrhea and other ailments. The medical kit for children should carry the additional items when compared to the same for adults.
Travel and pregnancy
International travel must usually be avoided by pregnant women having conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. But, for healthy pregnancy travel during the second trimester is usually the best recommend time and even the safest to go abroad. Travelling during the third trimester must be completely avoided.
The final word
When travelling to Egypt, it very much depends on your way of living and precautions about your health and the health of everyone travelling along. So, make sure you follow the entire do’s and don’ts and carry a fully-equipped medical kit to ensure a pleasure and relaxed stay in this beautiful country.
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