Getting immunized downtown (2008-05-06)

Tarangire River
While I was entering Tarangire National Park (March 14, 2000), a tsetse fly bit the back of my hand. Fearing further bites, when I reached the porch of my ridge tent I took off my shirt to spray it with Permethrin--and a tsetse fly bit my back.

Later that day I developed diarrhea and a moderate fever. As my temperature rose I worried I would become delirious and no one would discover my condition. This was one of three times in Africa that I wished I had a traveling companion.

My fever stopped rising and finally dropped, I got some rest, and my driver checked with me the next morning. The following day I was well and resumed my safari, taking photographs of elephants and afternoon storms.

This illustrates part of my philosophy of travel. I take whatever precautions are possible, accept that traveling has risks, and then forget my worries and focus on enjoying the experience.

Some precautions are medications and vaccinations for vaccine-preventable diseases. Last year I wrote about anti-malarial medication, mosquito avoidance, and a red colobus monkey. Vaccinations include routine vaccinations like MMR, polio, and Tdap, as well as vaccinations like hepatitis (A and B), rabies, and typhoid.

When I went to Africa, I was watching wild animals, so I received rabies vaccinations. For our trip to China, there wasn't time for the series, and we anticipated less time outdoors. For similar reasons we didn't get the Japanese encephalitis vaccinations. In addition, there are shortages of both of those vaccines. We'll avoid malaria-risk areas of China as well. We did go to King County Downtown Public Health Center Travel Clinic to update routine vaccinations and get hepatitis and typhoid vaccinations. Finally, Ryan is spraying our clothing with Permethrin. At least this time I'm not traveling alone.

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