I went to see the nurse yesterday evening to see if I needed any jabs or anything before we go travelling. I don't really need any additional vaccinations for our first trip out to Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and San Francisco. As you might expect, things started to get more juicy when we started discussing our next trip to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia. I'm up to date on things like tetanus, hepatitis A, polio and yellow fever, but the website the nurse was using to assess the risk in each of these places began to make me think that I might not bother going after all:
Malaria, diptheria, hepatitis b, rabies, cholera, TB, chikungunya fever, dengue fever, leptospirosis, bilharzia, sleeping sickness, HIV, plague......
It sounds awful.
In the end, we agreed that hepatitis b booster was probably overkill for what I'll be doing, but I had a typhoid booster, picked up a prescription for some Malarone to combat malaria and promised faithfully that I would take my own mosquito net and would avoid swimming (specifically to avoid the fresh water snail that has the fluke that spreads bilharzia).
We had a slightly longer discussion about the rabies jabs. It's a course of three injections, is quite expensive and all it really does is buy you the time you need to get to a hospital for further treatment. On an organised trip like the one we're on, it's probably not necessary.
"Besides" I joked, "If I get bitten by a lion, I might have more immediate things to worry about..."
The nurse frowned.
"What do you mean? What else do they carry?"
"No, I just mean that if I get bitten by a lion, then I will probably be a little too preoccupied by the fact that I'm being eaten by a large predator to worry about the possibility that I may get rabies from its bites."
"....do they carry some other disease?"
It's a serious business this. No laughing matter.
I opted not to have the jabs.