OLPCorps MIT Mauritania Bababe Health

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These are some of the most important health issues we will face in Mauritania.

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Needed immunizations

  • yellow fever
  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • typhoid
  • polio
  • rabies


Go with cheaper malaria medication: there are two that are promoted.

  • Mephloquine / Larium are what Peace Corps volunteers take (once every 7 or 9 days) → but not good for psychological disorders/problems (take doxycycline instead, which must be taken every day)
  • Take all the time even though it's not very good for your liver. It's still better than getting malaria!
  • Ginger will call medical people and try to get prices on medication.
* fever
* chills
* sweats
* headache
* body aches
* nausea and vomiting
* fatigue

Things to bring

   * personal prescription medication
   * anti-diarrhea medication
   * anti-malarial medication
   * Iodine tablets and portable water filters to purify water
   * Antibacterial hand wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer 
   * sunscreen and sunblock and a hat for males

Emergency medication:

  • Bacterial infections - cipro. Bring at least 7 treatments (250 mg doses), or a week's supply per person (treatment is for 4-5 days, 1-2 pills per day).
  • Giardia (parasite from well water -- pretty common) - flagyl (bring 18-20 250-mg pills) or fasigyn.
  • Amoebas (not that common -- don't worry about them hopefully) - flagyl or fasigyn + yoyodoxin.
  • Worms (unheard of in volunteers; seen more in children because they are transmitted through fecally-contaminated food or water. Probably can share volunteers' medical kit since they never get them anyway) - Vermox / niclosomide / mintezol. If not super expensive, can bring one of each.


  • We should wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat to wear outside.
  • Use insect spray containing pyrethroid insecticide.
  • Sleep under mosquito nets treated with permethrin. See Insecticide Treated Bed Nets on the CDC malaria site. Try to buy from Eastern Mountain Sports or other outdoor camping stores, or army/navy supply stores. We need at least 3.
  • Bug Spray: Should be at least 50% DEET. Use Cutter -- buy in states.


  • We will each probably need a gallon of water a day
  • Chlorine Dioxide tablets
  • Water filter
    • Very useful: filter large particles out first, then use tablets to purify
    • Can use the volunteers' filters/ the community also has a filter
  • Bleach (certain number of drops per unit of water)
  • Buying bottled water
    • 1.5 liter bottle of water ~$1 (3-5 bottles a day)
  • Drink mixes
    • Vitamin C, health, etc., but not with too much sugar
    • In case we get tired of water

Food preparation

  • Beware of flies!
  • Use soap -- wash hands all the time, also after interacting with children. Bring Purell.
  • Also wipe down laptop keys: can bring rubbing alcohol.


Bring an old pair of glasses because they're probably going to get scratched up from sandstorms. Better than wearing contact lenses and possibly getting eyes scratched up by sand.

Sandstorms cause runny noses. Bring handkerchiefs or tissues.


Flies, mosquitoes, ticks, lice. Keep food covered.

Blister beetle in Kaedi and whole region...probably at least one of us will encounter it. If it gets scared, it will urinate on your skin, which causes a blister to form... if you pop the blister, the fluid will go everywhere and it will be very painful. Just be a little careful. Happens at night, so make sure to stay under mosquito nets.


No toilet paper. Can pee like the natives or buy/bring Kleenex.

Water-transmitted diseases

  • Cholera/Typhoid fever/Amoebas/Dysentery/Viruses
  • Use purified water for most obvious things, but also brushing teeth and making eggs
  • Filter should be followed by treatment of chlorine because it does not kill tiny microorganisms like bacteria/viruses
  • DO NOT swim or bring swimsuits or touch open sources of water -- can get schistosomiasis. Cycle is through snails that live in water; transmitted through animal waste. Can be detected within a year (takes 6-12 months to show up); but long term if left untreated (5-10 years perhaps), can attack various organs - kidney, liver problems. Should have no problem avoiding except in the rainiest/most floody of times.

Minor illnesses

People get colds, throat infections. Bronchitis is not very common.


Think about bringing menstrual cups instead of tampons/pads: much more environmentally friendly! (Nowhere really to dispose things...just in latrines, i.e. holes in grounds.) $30 each, lasts 10-15 years.


People frequently defecate around their house, in fields....then diseases can be transmitted by flies or cockroaches. Diarrhea usually resolves itself after 5-7 days. Just make sure you are kept hydrated.


  • Antibiotics which have been shown to be effective include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), rifaximin (Xifaxan), or azithromycin (Zithromax).
  • Either loperamide (Imodium) or diphenoxylate (Lomotil) should be taken in addition to the antibiotic to reduce diarrhea and prevent dehydration.