Stay Healthy During the World Cup in South Africa
Prepare for a Winning Trip!
See a doctor familiar with travel medicine at least 4-6 weeks before your trip. When talking to your doctor, make sure you share all your travel plans, including side trips and activities. Your doctor will talk to you about any vaccines, medications, or other protective measures you need to stay healthy.
Find out from your doctor about vaccines for the seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 flu. Even though it is summer in the United States, it is winter – and flu season – in South Africa and the rest of the Southern Hemisphere. It is important to get vaccines to prevent the flu. For general information, visit www.flu.gov.
- If you have the flu, delay your travel plans until your fever has been gone for 24 hours. You can help prevent the spread of flu by covering your sneezes and coughs with tissues and washing your hands often with soap and water. Remember the simple rules of "Stop, wash, and go."
Develop a Game Plan!
Don't let illness keep you from cheering on your favorite team in their fight for the cup. Pack smart! With some pre-planning you can pack most of the items you'll need to stay healthy during the World Cup.
No one likes to think about accidents or illnesses when planning a fun trip, but these things do happen. Develop an emergency plan now to minimize trouble later.
Register your trip with the U.S. Department of State to make it easier to get help in case of an emergency. See the Tips for Traveling Abroad page on the U.S. Department of State website for more safety and security tips.
Check with your health insurance provider to find out the extent of your medical coverage outside the United States. If necessary, purchase medical travel insurance to cover unexpected health incidents during your time in South Africa. For more information, visit Health: What You Need to Know in Advance of Travel (U.S. Department of State).
Defend Your Health
Whether you are dribbling the ball on the field or watching with excitement from the stands, don't get a red card for unhealthy behavior. Be mindful of these health and safety tips while enjoying the matches and the rest of your trip:
- Follow safe food and water practices.
- Always eat foods that are fully cooked and served hot.
- Avoid food from street vendors.
- Eat fruits and vegetables that you can wash and peel yourself.
- Stay away from unpasteurized dairy products.
- Drink beverages that have been bottled and sealed (water, carbonated drinks, or sports drinks) and don't put ice in your drinks.
- Wash your hands with soap and water. If you don't have soap, use an alcohol-based hand gel.
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, a hat or head covering, and sunglasses with UV protection.
- Drink and eat regularly to stay hydrated.
- Use an insect repellent containing DEET (30%-50%) or picaridin (up to 15%).
- Avoid risky behaviors, especially those related to alcohol use, sexual activity, and drug use.
- Avoid touching or petting animals, even pets.
- Swim only in chlorinated water.
Spectator crowds can provide challenges, particularly if they become unruly after a sports victory or defeat. While in South Africa, practice the smart safety habits you normally would at home so your souvenirs are fond memories and maybe even a winning team!
- Stay alert, especially in crowds. Be aware when you move from a safe neighborhood to a dangerous area. Travel with a friend or group rather than venturing out alone.
- Choose a place to meet if you get separated from your group.
- Wear a helmet when you ride a bike or motorcycle.
- Wear a seatbelt.
- Be careful when participating in recreational activities, including swimming.
- Be careful crossing the street.
- Follow local laws and customs and World Cup security regulations.
- Avoid political protests and rallies.
- Make a photocopy of your passport to carry with you at all times.
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