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Destination Information for Democratic Republic of Congo

The largest and most populated country in Central Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo is often referred to as D.R Congo or Congo-Kinshasa, to distinguish it from its neighbour the Republic of Congo, also known as Congo-Brazzaville. D.R Congo is a destination for seasoned travellers, not backpackers or anyone looking for a luxury safari holiday. This is an extreme adventure, filled with lush rainforests, thundering rivers and rocky volcanoes. The country’s tragic and often violent past has meant that there are warnings in place for those considering travel here, but those who do make the journey are rewarded with an immersive African experience they’ll never forget.

From hiking on Mount Nyiragongo to spending the night on the rim of a lava lake, from trekking to see families of mountain gorillas to spending days floating down the river Congo on a loaded barge, there are some incredible experiences to be had here. Thanks to its equatorial position, D.R. Congo has a high frequency of thunderstorms and large amounts of rainfall. Visit during the dry season between December and March for the easiest travel conditions, and the best chances of spotting a mountain gorilla.

D.R. Congo is the centre of African music, which is best heard live at one of the local discos or bars in Bandal or Matonge in the capital Kinshasa. Here, you’ll also find lively markets for picking up locally-made crafts, but be prepared to haggle!

The D.R. Congo is a land locked country in central Africa. It was formally known as Zaire until 1997. Travel vaccinations are essential when visiting the country, with a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate required upon entry to the country – for anyone above 9 months old – along with hepatitis A, typhoid and the tetanus, diphtheria and polio vaccine. You should also be prepared for the risk of rabies, Hepatitis B, cholera, meningitis ACWY and malaria, and at London Travel Clinic we provide a range of antimalarials, so make sure to book a consultation.

Infections and Outbreaks frequently change from country to country and by attending our clinics you will be given the most up to date clinical and safety advice from our team of specialists. Our advice to you often includes aspects such as:

Malaria and regions within country:

There is a high risk of P.Falciparum malaria throughout the country and anti-malarial medication is advised.

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Non Vaccinated Diseases

Rift Valley fever

Rift Valley fever (RVF) is an acute, fever-causing viral disease that usually affects domesticated animals (such as cattle and sheep), but can also infect and cause illness in humans. The majority of human infections are caused by direct or indirect contact with the blood or organs of infected animals.

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is primarily spread to humans either by infected ticks or animal blood. Human-to-human transmission can also occur resulting from close contact with the blood, organs or other bodily fluids of an infected person.

West Nile virus

West Nile virus (WNV) is spread by mosquitoes in many countries. There are usually no symptoms, although some people develop mild flu-like symptoms, nausea and skin rash. The virus is not contagious and should get better without any treatment.

Travel Kits and Accessories
Price
Deet 50% - 100ml
£8
Deet 50% - 50ml
£6
Lifesystems EX4 Anti-Mozzie Fabric Spray - 350ml
£8.50
Lifesystems Micro Mosquito Net - Single
£20
Lifesystems Micro Mosquito Net - Double
£25
Natural Mosquito Repellent - 100ml
£7.75

African tick bite fever

Bacterial infection from bite from infected ticks. Most common between April-November and in rural, camping and hiking areas. Causes redness around site of bite and symptoms usually within 2 weeks, such as fever, muscle pain, headache and rash.

Travel Kits and Accessories
Price
Deet 50% - 100ml
£8
Deet 50% - 50ml
£6
Lifesystems EX4 Anti-Mozzie Fabric Spray - 350ml
£8.50

Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and it causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. Joint pain is often debilitating and can vary in duration. The disease shares some clinical signs with Dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where Dengue is common. There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.

Travel Kits and Accessories
Price
Deet 50% - 100ml
£8
Deet 50% - 50ml
£6
Lifesystems Bed Bug Barrier Bedsheet
£12.99
Lifesystems EX4 Anti-Mozzie Fabric Spray - 350ml
£8.50
Lifesystems Micro Mosquito Net - Single
£20
Lifesystems Micro Mosquito Net - Double
£25

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever is a viral disease which develops from mosquito bites during the day time. There is no treatment, only symptomatic relief. Symptoms include: High fever (40°C), severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands and a rash usually lasting for 2-7 days. WHO estimates 390 million cases of Dengue infections per year.

Travel Kits and Accessories
Price
Deet 50% - 100ml
£8
Deet 50% - 50ml
£6
Lifesystems EX4 Anti-Mozzie Fabric Spray - 350ml
£8.50
Lifesystems Micro Mosquito Net - Single
£20
Lifesystems Micro Mosquito Net - Double
£25

Leishmaniasis

A parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of an infected sandfly. Cutaneous Leishmaniasis (the most common): Causes skin lesions, mainly ulcers on exposed parts of the body, causing scars and serious disability. 90% of cases are in the Americas, the Mediterranean basin, the Middle East and Asia. Visceral Leishmaniasis (the most dangerous): Causes enlarged spleen and liver, anaemia, weight loss and irregular bouts of fever. Highly endemic in the Indian Subcontinent and East Africa. Mucotaneous (the least common): Causes partial or total destruction of the mucous membranes in the nose, mouth and throat. Most cases are found in Peru, Bolivia and Brazil.

Travel Kits and Accessories
Price
Deet 50% - 100ml
£8
Deet 50% - 50ml
£6
Lifesystems EX4 Anti-Mozzie Fabric Spray - 350ml
£8.50
Lifesystems Micro Mosquito Net - Single
£20
Lifesystems Micro Mosquito Net - Double
£25

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis, also called bilharzia, is an infection caused by a parasitic worm that lives in fresh water in subtropical and tropical regions. Avoid swimming in fresh water rivers, streams and lakes if you can. You often don't have any symptoms at first, but after a few weeks may develop a rash, high temperature, cough, diarrhoea and joint pain. Schistosomiasis can usually be treated successfully with a short course of a medication that kills the worms.

Trypanosomiasis

Human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, is a parasitic disease transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tsetse fly, which is only found in rural Africa. Initial symptoms include severe headache, insomnia, enlarged lymph nodes, anaemia and rash.

Travel Kits and Accessories
Price
Deet 50% - 100ml
£8
Deet 50% - 50ml
£6
Lifesystems EX4 Anti-Mozzie Fabric Spray - 350ml
£8.50
Lifesystems Micro Mosquito Net - Single
£20
Lifesystems Micro Mosquito Net - Double
£25
Natural Mosquito Repellent - 100ml
£7.75

Additional Health Risks Information for Democratic Republic of Congo

If you are planning a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, check advice for your specific destination before you travel. Some areas of the country are advised against for all visitors, due to political unrest, armed violence at protests and demonstrations. The security situation may cause flights to be cancelled, roads to be closed and public services to be suspended without notice. You may not be able to get assistance in leaving the country during a crisis, so always have a contingency plan.

For those travellers who do make the trip to D. R. Congo, you should be constantly aware of the risk of street crime and other attacks at all times. Foreigners may be a target. Medical care in the country is extremely limited. If you become ill during your trip, there is a basic clinic in Kinshasa, which may be able to treat minor ailments, but otherwise it will be difficult to find anything approaching a good standard for care. Ensure that you have appropriate insurance in place that will cover the cost of medical evacuation by air ambulance. Democratic Republic of Congo is high risk for malaria and Yellow fever, it is advisable to visit a Travel clinic to get the necessary vaccines, medications and advice before you travel.

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