you are advised not to swim or paddle in fresh water lakes and rivers. Swimming pools in good hotels and clubs are usually well chlorinated and maintained and are safe. Tuberculosis and hepatitis (A, B & E) are present in Uganda. over 7 years agoAnswered by Irish Smith via WorldNomads.com
Although I never tried it, I was warned of potentially catching bilharzia, which is a pretty bad parasite. I've been also told that if you do go and swim in a body of water, you can easily go to a chemist's and get some medicine to treat the parasite before it even really induces symptoms. over 7 years ago
Unfortunately, Bilharzia is pretty common in fresh water in Uganda. This doesn't stop residents - both local and expats - from swimming in the Lake but they also frequently have to be treated for Bilharzia. The disease should be taken seriously and good information can be read here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002298/. While not a medical professional, most people I know who have had it complain of feeling tired/under the weather for awhile before diagnosis. If you're on a short visit this could easily be dismissed as jetlag so best to be careful. As Irish Smith mentioned, swimming in pools, bathing, showering are absolutely no problem. over 7 years ago
I have swum in Lake Victoria and the River Nile a number of times and never caught Bilharzia. Not everyone is quite so lucky of course!
One theory is that if you scrub your feet hard after you get out of the water, you're very unlikely to get it. Bilharzia is essentially the larvae of a small snail. These snails breed in the reeds and shallows, so if you walk into the lake and crunch on a lot of snail shells, you know you might need to take precautions after your swim!
Lake Nabugabo and some of the crater lakes, Bilharzia free. Bilharzia normally takes 2-3 months minimum to develop. It can lie dormant in your body for up to 20 years before it surfaces, so if you do take the plunge, suggest you go to a local pharmacist in Uganda and buy the treatment. The tablets are dirt cheap, and you buy one per 5 kg bodyweight. Suggest that they're taken one evening, you'll feel bit rough but wake up fine the next day. I know a number of people who've done this treatment. ( Keep telling my mum I've taken the treatment - must get round to it someday!)
Interesting point re locals, you don't hear them worrying about Bilharzia.
Experience Uganda with a Lonely Planet blogger & connoisseur of local gin: cultural (mis)observations, trips to the Bush. Diary of a Muzungu www.muzungubloguganda.com over 7 years ago