It is vital that every participant visits their doctor or travel clinic at least 2 months prior to departure in order to get the latest advice on vaccinations and medications for the region. Some people are not able to have certain injections, so we cannot give blanket advice over which vaccinations you need. It is also worth checking the Travel Health Pro website or the Centres for Disease Control for up to date advice. This advice is based primarily on UK government guidance, and if local advice is preferred this should be sought separately.
Everybody must see a doctor or travel nurse to get official advice on which vaccinations are necessary.
Rabies: Your health professional may ask you whether you will be at an increased risk of rabies. It is not compulsory to get the rabies vaccinations as you will not be handling mammals and we have protocols in place to ensure that in the very unlikely event that you were bitten by a potential rabies vector, appropriate treatment could be given within a suitable timeframe. The only exception to this are those doing a dissertation on bats, who we require to be vaccinated.
Yellow Fever: The yellow fever vaccination is not currently advised for travel to the area that we are working in. However, if you are travelling through or from a yellow fever zone, then you must make sure that you have had the yellow fever vaccination and that you carry your proof of vaccination. Click here for the World Health Organisation’s advice on yellow fever vaccination requirements for international travellers to any country.
There are varying recommendations to the malaria risk in South Africa due to different levels of prevalence in different areas, and seasonal changes in mosquito abundance – as the Operation Wallacea season is during the winter there aren’t typically large numbers around. However, some Opwall site locations are within the bounds of malarial risk areas (see here or here) so it is usually recommended that volunteers take prophylaxis. Always listen to the advice of your doctor. The best form of protection is to prevent mosquito bites as much as possible. You can do this by wearing long sleeved clothing, particularly in the mornings and evenings, and by having a good insect repellent (see kit list for repellent advice).
If you are diving as part of your expedition and are given Larium as a prophylaxis please ask for an alternative. You cannot dive on Larium and anyone taking it will not be allowed to dive on site.
HIV/Aids and Hepatitis B are present in some form in each country that Operation Wallacea operates in, but there is no reason why this should present a problem providing you always act responsibly and practice safe sex.
There is a Hepatitis B vaccine available, as with all other vaccines follow the advice given by your medical professional regarding receiving it.
The effectiveness of the contraceptive pill is compromised in the instance of sickness, diarrhoea and whilst taking antibiotics so please bring alternative methods of contraception, even if you are travelling with your partner.
Some illnesses have incubation periods, sometimes lasting weeks, so if you do begin to display symptoms on returning to you home country and wish to seek medical help it is important to tell your physician that you have recently been to South Africa.