Please consult with a travel clinic or your personal physician regarding the recommended immunizations for travel to Ethiopia. You will need to do this well in advance of your trip as some vaccinations require time to take effect, and you may need to allow time between a series of shots. Comprehensive information can be found on the CDC Websites for Ethiopia.
In addition to being up-to-date on routine vaccinations 4-6 weeks before travel, the CDC recommends vaccinations for measles as follows:
- People 12 months old or older, with no evidence of immunity or no written documentation of any doses: 2 doses of MMR vaccine before travel. The 2 doses must be given 28 days apart.
- People 12 months old or older who have written documentation of 1 dose and no other evidence of immunity: 1 additional dose before travel, at least 28 days after the previous dose.
The CDC also recommends that most travelers be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Typhoid. The CDC also recommends some travelers to be vaccinated for Hepatitis B, Rabies, Meningitis (Meningococcal disease) *Yellow Fever, **Cholera and to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent Malaria.
*Yellow fever is a risk in certain parts of Ethiopia, so the CDC recommends the yellow fever vaccine for some travelers.
**Cholera is also a risk in Ethiopia. Avoiding unsafe food and water can also prevent many cholera infections. Cholera is rare in travelers but can be severe.
Please be advised that some travelers may experience altitude sickness on this trip. Addis Ababa is located at an elevation of 7,726 feet and the trek will take travelers as high as 14,923 feet. Altitude sickness, also called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), is an illness caused by exposure to the low air pressure, especially low partial pressure of oxygen, which many climbers experience at high altitudes. AMS is caused by exerting yourself at high altitudes, especially if you have not been properly acclimatized. It is most common at altitudes above 7,800 feet/ 2,400 meters. At this height, the air pressure (and the amount of oxygen it contains) is less than half that at sea level, and has been said to be comparable to ‘working with only one lung’. AMS can be serious, especially as it can be debilitating, and it generally occurs far from places where medical treatment can be easily administered.
Not everyone suffers from AMS, of course, and it is very difficult to predict who is or is not vulnerable to it. Generally speaking, a fit person is less vulnerable than an unfit person, because their cardiovascular system can operate at low pressures longer without as much strain. Even so, anyone can be vulnerable at altitudes above 3500 meters, no matter their fitness level, if they have not spent some time getting used to the low atmospheric pressures first. Undoubtedly the best way to see how you are going to react to high altitude is to go high and try to do some exercises. For most of us that isn’t an option so a good alternative is to have a session with a specialist altitude training company that have equipment that simulates the effects of altitude.
AVOIDING ALTITUDE SICKNESS
Here are some tips for avoiding altitude sickness:
- Walk high, sleep low. It is best to gradually climb higher each day, then descend lower to sleep. This lets you gradually become accustomed to lower pressures, and then recover somewhat overnight.
- Slow and steady. You need to keep your respiration rate low enough to maintain a normal conversation. If you are panting or breathing hard, you must slow down. Overworking your heart and lungs substantially increases your chance of becoming ill.
- Drink much more water than you think you need. Proper hydration helps acclimatization dramatically. You need to drink at least three liters each day. As dehydration presents many of the same symptoms as altitude sickness, your chances of being allowed to continue are best if you stay hydrated.
- Diamox. The general consensus of the research is that Diamox is helpful in avoiding AMS. We recommend you google Diamox and its effects yourself. It is a prescription drug, and you should consult with your doctor before taking it. It is important to speak with your doctor to see if Diamox is an option for your climb.