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Current U.S. State Department Travel Warning
Sources:
U.S. State Department - http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_928.html,

This Travel Warning (January 19, 2007) is being re-issued to note a further deterioration in the security situation in the Niger Delta region, due to recent car bombings in the city of Port Harcourt and continuing kidnappings of expatriates in that area. American citizens should depart from and defer non-essential travel to Delta, Bayesa, and Rivers states. This Warning also provides an update on aviation safety in Nigeria and addresses upcoming elections. It supersedes the Travel Warning for Nigeria issued August 24, 2006.

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the dangers of travel to Nigeria. The lack of law and order in Nigeria poses considerable risks to travelers. Violent crime committed by ordinary criminals, as well as by persons in police and military uniforms, can occur throughout the country and tends to peak between November and January, during the holiday period.

The security situation in the Niger Delta region has deteriorated significantly over the past year. Travel to the region remains dangerous and should be avoided. Throughout the year, a number of expatriate workers in the oil industry, including American citizens, have been held hostage for days or weeks. Hostages haven been taken from oil facilities, public roadways, and within the city of Port Harcourt. While most have been released unharmed, one militant group has threatened to kill oil workers and their families and, in November 2006, a British national was killed during an attempted kidnapping. In addition, U.S. citizens and other foreigners have been threatened and held hostage during labor disputes. Two car bomb explosions at oil company compounds in Port Harcourt on December 18, 2006, prompted a major oil company to withdraw employee dependents from the city. In light of these latest incidents, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to Delta, Bayelsa, and Rivers states, and Americans not involved in the performance of essential duties depart from those three states.

Crime in Lagos and Abuja is an ongoing problem. Some expatriates have been robbed in the outlying Lagos suburb of Lekki, and in Abuja, the Maitama area has seen a series of home invasions. In a working class section of mainland Lagos, an October 2005 clash between police and residents left several dead. Even Victoria and Ikoyi Islands, which are generally safer than other parts of Lagos, have experienced attempted bank robberies, and have seen an increase in smash-and-grab car robberies, including some involving expatriates.

Federal and State elections are scheduled for April 2007. Previous elections in Nigeria have sometimes resulted in civil disturbances and unrest leading up to and during the election. U.S. citizens in Nigeria should exercise particular caution during this period. Large public gatherings, political rallies, and demonstrations should be avoided. The U.S. government's ability to assist American citizens caught up in instances of civil disturbance or unrest may be limited.

Religious tension between some Muslim and Christian communities results in occasional acts of isolated communal violence that could erupt quickly and without warning. The states of Kano and Kaduna are particularly volatile. Rival ethnic groups have clashed violently in the Niger Delta region around Warri city and in Southeast Plateau State. Senior al-Qaida leadership has expressed interest publicly in overthrowing the government of Nigeria. Links also were uncovered connecting Nigerians to al-Qaida in 2004.

Road travel is dangerous. Robberies by armed gangs have been reported on rural roads and within major cities. Travelers should avoid driving at night. Because of poor vehicle maintenance and driving conditions, public transportation throughout Nigeria can be dangerous and should be avoided. Taxis pose risks because of the possibility of fraudulent or criminal operators, old and unsafe vehicles, and poorly maintained roads. Road travel in Lagos is banned between 7:00 and 10:00 AM on the last Saturday of every month for municipal road cleanup; police vigilantly enforce the ban.

Enforcement of aviation safety standards in Nigeria is uneven; civil aviation in Nigeria continues to experience air incidents and accidents, including four crashes with fatalities between October 22, 2005, and October 30, 2006. Incidents included fires on planes, collapsed landing gear, and planes veering off the runway. After each such occurence, aviation authorities may temporarily shut down the domestic airline involved, ground a number of planes, and close the affected airport. Flights in Nigeria, including international routes, are often delayed or cancelled. Travelers should be prepared for disruptions to air travel to, from, and within Nigeria.

In general, international airlines have paid close attention to conditions at airports in Nigeria and have taken appropriate action. As such, international carriers operating direct flights to Nigeria have experienced far fewer incidents. However, domestic carriers operating within Nigeria and the region are less responsive to local conditions and may present a greater safety risk to travelers. Where possible, international travelers to and from Nigeria should avoid transiting an additional Nigerian city.

Travel by any means within Nigeria is risky. For essential travel, official Americans in Nigeria balance the risk between domestic air and road travel by using direct flights on Virgin Nigeria Airlines or AERO Contractors to cities serviced by these carriers. Currently, however, neither Virgin Nigeria nor AERO appears in most travel agency software. Additional information on current flight schedules is available at http://www.VirginNigeria.com and http://www.flyaero.com/.

Some Nigeria-based criminals conduct advance fee fraud and other scams that target foreigners worldwide. These fraudulent activities pose great risk of financial loss. Recipients traveling to Nigeria to pursue such fraudulent offers have been subject to physical harm, and local police authorities are often unwilling to help in such cases. No one should provide personal financial or account information to unknown parties. Under no circumstances should U.S. citizens travel to Nigeria without a valid visa -- an invitation to enter Nigeria without a visa is normally indicative of illegal activity. Furthermore, the ability of U.S. Embassy officers to extricate U.S. citizens from unlawful business deals and their consequences is limited. Persons contemplating business deals in Nigeria are strongly urged to check with the U.S. Department of Commerce or the U.S. Department of State before providing any information or making any financial commitments. See the Department of State's publications "Tips For Business Travelers To Nigeria" at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/brochures/brochures_2113.html, and "Nigerian Advanced Fee Fraud" at http://www.state.gov/www/regions/africa/naffpub.pdf.

Americans who travel to Nigeria should obtain the latest health information before departing the U.S., read the Department's Fact Sheet on Avian Influenza at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/health/health_1181.html, and consult with their personal physicians concerning avian influenza. The websites of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov and the World Health Organization at http://www.who.int have up-to-date information on outbreaks of contagious and tropical diseases.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Nigeria are strongly advised to register through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

Periodically, travel by U.S. mission personnel is restricted based on changing security conditions, often due to crime, general strikes, or student/political demonstrations or disturbances. U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos for up-to-date information on any restrictions. The U.S. Embassy in Abuja can be contacted by phone at [234](9) 461-4000. American citizens may contact the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos at 011 [234](1) 261-1215 during business hours. For after-hours emergencies call [234] (1) 261-1414, 261-0195, 261-0078, 261-0139, or 261-6477. You may also visit the U.S. Embassy's website at http://nigeria.usembassy.gov.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's most recent Consular Information Sheet for Nigeria and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, which are located on the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).


Routine Vaccinations
Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/travel/,

Check with your healthcare provider: you and your family may need routine as well as recommended vaccinations.

Before travel, be sure you and your children are up to date on all routine immunizations according to schedules approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). See the schedule for adults and the schedule for infants and children. Some schedules can be accelerated for travel.

See your doctor at least 4?6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect. If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. It might not be too late to get your shots or medications as well as other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

Recommended Vaccinations and Preventive Medications

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to West Africa. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with a health-care provider to determine which vaccines you will need.

* Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.

* Hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11?12 years who did not receive the series as infants.

* Malaria: your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in West Africa, including cities. See your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug. For details concerning risk and preventive medications, see Malaria Information for Travelers to West Africa.

* Meningococcal (meningitis), if you plan to visit countries in this region that experience epidemics of meningococcal disease during December through June

* Rabies, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.

* Typhoid vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors

* Yellow fever, a viral disease that occurs primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America, is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. The virus is also present in Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travelers to endemic areas and may be required to cross certain international borders

Vaccination should be given 10 days before travel and at 10 year intervals if there is on-going risk.

* As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria, measles, and a one-time dose of polio vaccine for adults.

Required Vaccinations

* A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain countries in West Africa. For detailed information, see Yellow Fever Vaccine Requirements and Information on Malaria Risk and Prophylaxis, by Country. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.


Diseases Found in West Africa
Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/travel/,

Malaria

Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness.

Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite. Your risk of malaria may be high in all countries in West Africa, including cities. All travelers to West Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of West Africa, may be at risk for malaria. Prevent this serious disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites (see below). Most travelers to West Africa, including infants, children, and former residents of West Africa, are at risk for malaria. These travelers should take one of the following drugs (listed alphabetically):

* atovaquone/proguanil,

* doxycycline,

* mefloquine,

* or primaquine (in special circumstances).

Yellow Fever

A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain countries in West Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.

Food and Waterborne Diseases

Avoid buying food or drink from street vendors, because it is relatively easy for such food to become contaminated.

Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness in travelers. Travelers? diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout West Africa and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage ( hepatitis).

Other Disease Risks

Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis (river blindness) are other diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region. Endemic foci of river blindness exist in all countries listed except in the greater part of The Gambia, Mauritania. Protecting yourself against insect bites will help to prevent these diseases. The risk for contracting African sleeping sickness (trypanosomiasis), which is caused by the bite of an infected tsetse fly, is high in all countries except The Gambia, Niger, and Mauritania. A number of rickettsial infections also occur in this region. Wearing protective clothing and avoiding rural areas or areas of dense vegetation along streams, is the best protection. Plague occurs sporadically or in outbreaks. Schistosomiasis, a parasitic infection, can be contracted in fresh water in this region. Do not swim in fresh water (except in well-chlorinated swimming pools) in these countries. (For more information, please see Swimming and Recreational Water Precautions.) Polio is still endemic in Nigeria. Other infections that tend to occur more often in longer-term travelers (or immigrants from the region) include tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis B.


Other Health Risks
Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/travel/,

Injuries

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers. Protect yourself from motor vehicle injuries: avoid drinking and driving; wear your safety belt and place children in age-appropriate restraints in the back seat; follow the local customs and laws regarding pedestrian safety and vehicle speed; obey the rules of the road; and use helmets on bikes, motorcycles, and motor bikes. Avoid boarding an overloaded bus or mini-bus. Where possible, hire a local driver.


What You Need to Bring With You
Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/travel/,

* Long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and a hat to wear whenever possible while outside, to prevent illnesses carried by insects (e.g., malaria, Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis).

* Insect repellent containing DEET.

* Bed nets treated with permethrin. For use and purchasing information, see Insecticide Treated Bednets on the CDC malaria site. Overseas, permethrin or another insecticide, deltamethrin, may be purchased to treat bed nets and clothes.

* Flying-insect spray to help clear rooms of mosquitoes. The product should contain a pyrethroid insecticide; these insecticides quickly kill flying insects, including mosquitoes.

* Iodine tablets and portable water filters to purify water if bottled water is not available.

* Sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat for protection from harmful effects of UV sun rays. See Skin Cancer Questions and Answers for more information.

* Prescription medications: make sure you have enough to last during your trip, as well as a copy of the prescription(s) or letter from your health-care provider on office stationery explaining that the medication has been prescribed for you.

* Always carry medications in their original containers, in your carry-on luggage.

* Be sure to bring along over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication (e.g., bismuth subsalicylate, loperamide) and an antibiotic prescribed by your doctor to self-treat moderate to severe diarrhea.

* New security measures were implemented on August 10, 2006, regarding what passengers may carry onto the airplane. Up-to-date information may be obtained at the Transportation Security Administration's Guidance For Airline Passengers Fact Sheet and Frequently Asked Questions.


Staying Healthy During Your Trip
Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/travel/,

 

Travelers should take the following precautions to stay healthy,

* When using repellent on a child, apply it to your own hands and then rub them on your child. Avoid children's eyes and mouth and use it sparingly around their ears.

* Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease transmission.

* In developing countries, drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible, learn how to make water safer to drink.

* Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.)

* To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.

* Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

* Protect yourself from mosquito insect bites:

o Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when outdoors.

o Use insect repellents that contain DEET (N, N-diethylmethyltoluamide). For more information about insect repellents and correct use, see What You Need to Know about Mosquito Repellent on the CDC West Nile Virus site.

o If no screening or air conditioning is available: use a pyrethroid-containing spray in living and sleeping areas during evening and night-time hours; sleep under bed nets, preferably insecticide-treated ones.

o If you are visiting friends and relatives in your home country, see additional special information about malaria prevention in Recent Immigrants to the U.S. from Malarious Countries Returning 'Home' to Visit Friends and Relatives on the CDC Malaria site.

Do not

* Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).

* Do not drink beverages with ice.

* Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.

* Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as schistosomiasis. (For more information, please see Swimming and Recreational Water Precautions.)

* Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas. For more information, please see Animal-Associated Hazards.

* Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.

* Avoid poultry farms, bird markets, and other places where live poultry is raised or kept.


After You Return Home
Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/travel/,

If you have visited a malaria-risk area, continue taking your antimalarial drug for 4 weeks (mefloquine or doxycycline) or seven days (atovaquone/proguanil) after leaving the risk area.

Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the physician your travel history.


Safety Precautions

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As when visiting any country, travelers should exercise caution and avoid crime like pick-pocketing or mugging by paying attention to surroundings and keeping an eye on personal belongings. Always keep travel documents in a safe place. If you are traveling or moving to a country for more than a few weeks, it is a good idea to register yourself with your embassy in that country and provide emergency contact information.


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