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Disease and Floods Affect Kenya Travel

January 25, 1998|ANN M. SIMMONS, Times Nairobi Bureau

Americans planning to travel to Kenya risk being disappointed by the cancellation of tours to some safari parks, due to torrential rains and flooding, which health officials say have also promoted the spread of certain water-borne diseases.

The World Health Organization recently recommended that travelers take precautions against mosquitoes believed to transmit Rift Valley Fever, which has killed hundreds of Kenyans and Somalians. WHO advises wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, using mosquito repellent and sleeping in a netted bed.

Kenyan tourism authorities are obviously loath to discourage visitors, and the U.S. Embassy said last week that no travel advisory had been issued to warn U.S. citizens against going to Kenya.

Since the end of last year, heavy rains have pounded most parts of Kenya, damaging roads, bridges and telephone and power lines. Tour operators have stopped taking visitors to the world-famous Amboseli game park and Masai Mara natural reserve because the access roads are too bad to navigate, according to Najib Balala, chairman of the Mombasa and Coast Tourist Assn.

An official at the Kenya Assn. of Tour Operators said most roads within the parks themselves can be traveled by four-wheel-drive vehicles, but he conceded that travelers might be disappointed by the lack of visible wildlife. Many animals have migrated to higher ground, above the flood water.

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