Uganda was on our route from Kenya to DR Congo and our visit was limited and disappointing, both culturally and wildlife sightings, though we had to keep to a schedule so did not have time to do much in the way of wildlife viewing. We saw masses of hippos and elephants but little else, our fault I suppose, but our over-long and tedious visit to a pygmy village did spoil our view of the country. Mea Culpa! Uganda is almost certainly better than it looks from our photos.
Entering Uganda from Kenya.
A Ugandan office with staff exercising before starting work.
Do NOT bathe/swim/paddle in Lake Malawi!
Bilharzia, or schistosomiasis, is a parasitic infection caused by a worm that bores through moist skin deep into human flesh. The worm, endemic in Africa, lives part of its life cycle in freshwater snails, which excrete it in their faeces into water where unsuspecting humans wash or bathe.
One of the most common illnesses worldwide, it infects more than 200 million people and kills 200, 000 annually. But a mini-epidemic among young visitors to Africa – particularly Lake Malawi, one of the continent’s most famous beauty spots – is alarming British doctors. One leading infectious disease expert, jokingly introducing a lecture on schistosomiasis in London recently, began with: “This is the disease caught by backpackers visiting Lake Malawi. ”
Symptoms of bilharzia are similar to a bad case of influenza: a persistent dry cough, shortness of breath, night sweats and very painful joints.
Dr Nick Beeching, senior lecturer in infectious diseases at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, says about half of the cases he has seen are traceable to Lake Malawi. In one group of 18 students on a scuba-diving holiday, 15 were infected.
Infectious disease experts say the Malawi government is to blame. For years it has insisted that the lake is free of schistosomiasis, so anxious is it to preserve its reputation – and the flow of tourists’ dollars. It is only now that officials are admitting that there may be a problem in “some areas”. . .