Dengue Outbreak Reported in Senegal

CDC Level 1 Travel Alert issued regarding dengue virus outbreak in Senegal Africa

Senegal fishermen

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions, for the African country of Senegal, on November 7, 2018. 

Senegal, which is located on the north-west coast of central Africa, is an important partner of the United States in promoting peace and security. 

Because dengue is a viral disease and spread by mosquito bites, all travelers to Senegal should prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing when outdoors, and sleeping in an air-conditioned or well-screened room or under an insecticide-treated bed net, said the CDC. 

Moreover, half of the world's population living in 128 countries is at risk of dengue. 

If you are bitten by an infected mosquito, dengue symptoms can take up to 2 weeks to develop but usually last less than a week. In severe cases, symptoms may include hemorrhage, shock, organ failure, and death. 

There is no specific treatment for dengue/severe dengue, but early detection and access to proper medical care can lower fatality rates below 1 percent, says the World Health Organization (WHO). 

But, the CDC does not recommend Americans get the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine. 

Dengvaxia is a preventive vaccine that has not been approved by the CDC or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA did grant Dengvaxia Priority Review status during October 2018.   

Dengvaxia is currently licensed in 20 countries for the prevention of dengue. 

Dr. David Greenberg, Regional Medical Head North America, Sanofi Pasteur, said in a press release, "The vaccine has been evaluated in studies involving more than 40,000 people from 15 countries around the world with up to 6 years of follow-up data from large-scale investigations." 

There are 4 distinct, but closely related, serotypes of the virus that cause dengue: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4. 

Recovery from infection by one provides lifelong immunity against that particular serotype. 

However, cross-immunity to the other serotypes after recovery is only partial and temporary. Subsequent dengue infections by other serotypes increase the risk of developing severe dengue.   

The CDC says those visiting Senegal should be up to date on standard vaccinations, such as the MMR, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella, polio, and the yearly flu vaccination. 

Additionally, the CDC recommends the hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines for most travelers going to Senegal. 

Since the yellow fever virus is an ongoing risk in Senegal, the CDC recommends Sanofi’s Stamaril or YF-VAX vaccine for all travelers who are 9 months of age or older. 

Moreover, the government of Senegal requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if you are traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever, which does not include the USA.

To see a complete list, see Countries with risk of yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission. 

This dengue outbreak alert supports the action taken by the US State Department on May 18, 2018, when it issued a Level 1 Travel Advisory status for Senegal.

The CDC says USA citizens should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations, such as this Traveler’s Checklist.

USA citizens can easily schedule a pre-trip, travel vaccination review from a local pharmacy at Vax-Before-Travel.