Compulsory vaccine: yellow fever vaccine (have your international vaccination certificate).
The following vaccines are very strongly recommended.
- Universal vaccines: DTCP, hepatitis B.
- Food hygiene vaccines: typhoid fever, hepatitis A.
- Meningococcal meningitis.
- Depending on the accommodation and hygiene conditions and the length of stay: rabies.
Especially as soon as the sun starts to go down:
- Sleep only under insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
- Use plenty of skin mosquito repellents and mosquito coils.
- Wear (outside), as soon as it gets dark (especially in a humid environment), clothing that covers the body as much as possible, tightly around the extremities.
As soon as the sun is well up, you can relax your vigilance, at least as far as malaria is concerned.
A few additional points about malaria:
- There are in fact, for the traveller, two types of malaria and two types of parasites: the most frequent one, the one that kills (Plasmodium falciparum), but does not stay long in the organism (maximum 3 months), and those that do not kill, only make you sick, but can live, on the other hand, much longer in the organism.
- Consultation before departure is essential. In any case, the medicines currently in use are only available on prescription.
- Unless there is a compelling reason, a young child or a pregnant woman should not travel to a malaria zone.
Diarrhea is not serious:
- If it’s not accompanied by a fever;
- and if it simply consists of abnormally soft stools.
Fortunately, this is by far the most common case.
In all cases, please note the following recommendations:
- Stop eating foods that contain dietary fibre (vegetables, fruit) in favour of those that do not (rice in particular).
- Ensure good hydration.
Some basic precautions
- Ask Europeans living in each community if you can drink tap water (this is rarely the case).
- Try to drink “industrial” drinks: so-called “spring” waters, lemonades, fruit or cola drinks. Make sure that these waters reach you uncorked.
- Don’t hesitate to make orgies of freshly squeezed fruit juice in front of you.
- Finally, if you are stuck in the bush, take the water you find, but wait 2 hours before drinking it, until your antiseptic tablet takes effect.
Don’t forget that if a drink can be sterile, the glass is not.
In any case, you must drink a lot, several litres a day, otherwise there is a risk of dehydration.
- Raw vegetables can be a real problem, especially in the bush, which can be soiled by “human fertilizer”.
- Meat is not too much of a problem. Just make sure that they are not overdone and, above all, that they are well cooked.
- Freshwater and marine fish are not a problem in West Africa, when they are fresh, of course.
- Dairy products can pose a risk. The same goes for ice cream, unless you are sure it comes from a well-controlled industry.
- Before handling any food, wash your hands with Marseille soap, nails cut short.
- Avoid swimming in stagnant fresh water: risk of bilharziasis and other parasitic diseases.
- Finally, if you wallow on a beach also frequented by dogs, you can catch one of their parasites: this is called Larva migrans. A small larva will come and walk under your skin: it’s impressive, it itches, but it’s not very serious.
Condoms should be taken with you, as they are not available everywhere, and their quality is not as well controlled as in Europe.
Security situation and areas not recommended
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs formally advises against the Pendjari and W national parks, in the North-East of Benin, on the border with Burkina Faso and Niger, as well as the hunting areas adjoining the Pendjari and Atakora parks.
In addition, it advises against staying in the areas north of Banikoara and south of Matéri as far as Boukoumbé, bordering areas that are formally not recommended, and in the border areas with Nigeria, unless there are compelling reasons to do so.