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Malaria, Travel Vaccinations and Other Preventable Health Risks for Gambia

Gambia - Travel Overview

Looking for information about travel vaccines and malaria in Gambia? Then you have come to the right place!

Travelpharm has an excellent reputation for not only providing great customer service and high-quality advice but also some of the best prices in the UK for malaria prevention. And if that’s not enough, our partners at Peak Pharmacy can even provide your travel vaccinations, so without further ado let’s find out more.

The Gambia is a country in Africa that shares its border with Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea.

Malaria Risk in Gambia

Travelpharm believes there is a risk of malaria in Gambia, therefore, travellers should observe good bite avoidance measures to avoid insect bites, for example, mosquito bites from dusk till dawn.  Our opinion is based on information provided by WHO, CDC and Travel Health Pro.  The likely risk of contracting malaria will vary depending on the country, regions within the country and time of year.

Malaria is usually prevented using the ABCD Approach, where A stands for Awareness, B stands for Bite Avoidance, C stands for Chemoprophylaxis (Malaria Tablets) and D for Diagnosis.

Malaria risk areas do change frequently. To learn more and be aware of your malaria risk Travel Health Pro has excellent malaria risk maps colour-coded to show high-risk regions of The Gambia.

In line with guidelines published in England by Public Health England, Travelpharm will only recommend anti-malaria tablets where Travel Health Pro indicates them, however, some higher-risk travellers visiting lower-risk areas may require malaria pills. These groups include patients:

  • with long-term complex medical conditions 
  • older travellers, or under 5 years old 
  • that are immunocompromised, for example, because of HIV or medicines to suppress your immune system 
  • that do not have a spleen (suffer from asplenia) 
  • who are long-term travellers or visiting rural remote locations for extended periods of time

If you need further advice on which malaria tablet is the most appropriate for your trip, or require further advice about the risk at your destination please contact us.

What malaria tablets should I take for Gambia?

Unfortunately, there are no vaccines for malaria available in the UK. You may need to take anti-malaria tablets at your destination to prevent malaria. The malaria parasite, like many bacteria, can rapidly develop resistance to malaria prevention tablets. Overuse means medicines containing Chloroquine are no longer routinely recommended for UK travellers to most destinations worldwide.

If anti-malaria tablets are recommended for your trip then the following medicines are usually suitable for parts of the world where the variant of malaria is resistant to Chloroquine, areas like Africa, Asia and South America:

How many malaria tablets should I order?

To help you fathom this impossible conundrum our clever travel health pharmacist created a great calculator to help you work out how many tablets you need.? We have a calculator that will help you calculate the number of tablets required for:

Simply fill in the blanks with the details of your trip, and it will tell you how many tablets you need to order. Easy!

Recommended Travel vaccines for Gambia

You should always visit your travel health professional for advice 6-8 weeks before your trip to ensure you will be able to get the vaccines you need in time. Travelpharm is not a supplier of travel jabs but our team of pharmacists at Peak Pharmacy will be able to provide you with the right advice and vaccines to keep you healthy whilst on your holiday. With clinics from Milton Keynes to Manchester, there is likely to be a Peak Pharmacy near you.

Visiting a Peak Pharmacy Travel Health Clinic prior to your holiday will help you get the right advice for your trip. Travel vaccines are not one size fits all, and it’s important that a suitably trained healthcare professional provides you with up-to-date evidence-based information so you only receive the vaccines you need for your trip.

DiseaseAll TravellersSome Travellers
Hepatitis AYes 
TetanusYes

 

Cholera 

Yes

Hepatitis B 

Yes

Meningitis ACWY 

Yes

Rabies 

Yes

Yellow Fever

Yes

 
Typhoid

Yes

 

 Other countries in Africa

Yellow Fever Risk in Gambia

There is a risk of Yellow Fever in Gambia and vaccination against yellow fever is usually advised. A yellow fever certificate may also be required to enter this country. For further information please see Travel Health Pro or make an appointment with one of the specialist travel pharmacists at Peak Pharmacy.

Insect Bite Avoidance Advice

Travellers to the Gambia are at risk of more than just the diseases mentioned above. Many diseases that you will find in Gambia cannot be prevented by vaccines or tablets. In this situation, you should avoid bites from insects like mosquitoes, ticks and biting flies. Avoiding insect bites is essential to help prevent the spread of diseases like African Tick Bite Fever, Rift Valley Fever, West Nile Virus, and African Trypanosomiasis. For further advice on Insect Bite Avoidance, we have some useful articles in our travel health guides, and you might want to check out Travel Health Pro to learn more about the disease risk at your destination.

Chikungunya Virus

There is a risk of Chikungunya Virus in Gambia. This virus is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes and there are no vaccines or tablets to prevent or cure this condition. Avoidance of mosquito bites is essential. The mosquito that spreads this disease typically bites during the day from dawn until dusk.

Dengue Fever

There is a risk of Dengue Fever in Gambia. This virus is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes and there are no vaccines or tablets to prevent or cure this condition. Avoidance of mosquito bites is essential. The mosquito that spreads this disease typically bites during the day from dawn until dusk.

Schistosomiasis

There is a risk of Schistosomiasis in Gambia. This disease can be found around the world in freshwater lakes and rivers. You cannot catch this disease in salt water, for example, the sea. Schistosomiasis parasites that can infect you through very limited contact with intact skin are usually found in shallow still water on the edges of rivers or lakes. This disease can be easily avoided if you do not swim, bathe, or wash in freshwater rivers and lakes.

Zika Virus

There is a risk of Zika Fever in Gambia. This virus is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes and there are no vaccines or tablets to prevent or cure this condition. Unlike many other diseases spread by mosquitoes, this disease can be acquired through unprotected sex as well. Avoidance of mosquito bites is essential. The mosquito that spreads this disease typically bites during the day from dawn until dusk.

Zika virus is particularly important if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy as the disease can cause abnormal development of the unborn baby.

Please familiarise yourself with the latest advice from Public Health England to stay safe on your trip.

Altitude Sickness

There are areas of high altitude in the Gambia. High altitude is defined as altitudes over 2500m (8200ft) above sea level.

Travel to high altitudes can cause Acute Mountain Sickness (Altitude Sickness) which if not recognised can lead to High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE).

Symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and sleep disturbance. If you suffer mild symptoms, do not go any higher instead remain at the same altitude and spend a few days acclimatising. If symptoms do not resolve or get worse it is important you descend immediately. Never ignore the warning signs because if you persist with an ascent whilst suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness it will invariably lead to swelling around the brain or fluid collecting in the lungs. Ultimately HAPE and HACE can prove fatal.

Prevention of altitude sickness is by slow ascent (no more than 500m per day once over 3000m) and by ensuring travel to high altitude areas from low altitude areas is not done in a single day. A rest day should be scheduled every 3-4 days.

Travel Health Pro has an excellent resource for helping you to determine your risk based on previous experience and elevation.

Patients potentially at risk due to unavoidably rapid ascents, or those with previous experience of Acute Mountain Sickness may benefit from taking Acetazolamide (Diamox). Travelpharm offers a free online consultation service for UK travellers should you wish to purchase this medicine.

Travellers’ Diarrhoea

Gambia has a high prevalence of travellers’ diarrhoea with the expected risk of suffering symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhoea, fever and potentially vomiting at greater than 20%. It is important to ensure you observe strict hygiene and to be careful of what food and drink are being consumed. We have a handy guide available in our travel blog and we also stock a large selection of medicines to help ease your symptoms in our stomach and bowel section.

Travelpharm can provide a range of medicines to help manage the symptoms of travellers' diarrhoea products including Imodium also known as Loperamide, rehydration Sachets like Dioralyte and ORS as well as antibiotics like Xifaxanta.

Xifaxanta tablets contain Rifamixin, which is an antibiotic treatment suitable for travellers' diarrhoea. Rifamixin is non-absorbable, so has few side effects, and can be used for treating moderate travellers' diarrhoea that is causing moderate distress and problems with the day-to-day routine.

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