Time Zone: 0 hours. GMT +1 hour daylight savings time.
Tel. Country Code: 27
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Electrical Standards: Electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz). Grounding Adaptor Plugs C, H.
Travel Health Services
Foreign Commonweatlh Office
• U.S. Embassy
Tel:  439-2856, 439-2858
Fax:  439-2475
The Canadian Embassy in Senegal is responsible for representing Canadian interests in Cape Verde, The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.
• Canadian Embassy
Rue Galliéni - Amadou Cissé Dia
Tel:  (33) 889-4700
Fax:  (33) 889-4720
A passport, visa, and evidence of yellow fever vaccination are required. The current fee for a two-year visa for Americans is $100.00 (U.S. Dollars).
Travelers who do not obtain the necessary visa before arrival in The Gambia will have their passports stamped at the port of entry with a 24-, 48- or 72-hour pass and are required to report to the Gambian Immigration Department in Banjul to regularize their stay. The Banjul Immigration Department issues a standard visa for one month duration for approximately $16.00 (U.S. Dollars). Extensions require additional visits to the Gambian Immigration Department and additional fees. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends obtaining a Gambian visa in advance of arrival.
A $10.00 (U.S. Dollars) tourist levy is charged upon arrival at the airport only for charter flights (like Condor, Monarch, & ASTRAUS). Payment is accepted only in U.S. Dollars, British Pounds, or Euros.
Travelers are urged to obtain the latest information on customs and entry requirements from the Embassy of The Gambia, 1156 15th Street, NW, Suite 905, Washington, DC 20005, telephone (202) 785-1399, fax (202) 785-1430; or from the Permanent Mission of The Gambia to the U.N. at 820 Second Avenue, Suite 900C, New York, NY 10071, telephone (212) 949-6640. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Gambian embassy or consulate. Visit the Embassy of The Gambia website athttp://www.gambiaembassy.us for the most current visa information.
HIV Test: Not required.
Required Vaccinations: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required of all travelers >1 year of age arriving from infected or endemic countries.
The Gambia is a developing country in western Africa, and the capital is Banjul. The official language is English. Facilities for tourism in the Banjul area are good; however, outside the capital region, tourist facilities are limited in availability and quality.
Vaccinations: Recommended and Routine
Hepatitis A: Recommended for all travelers >1 year of age not previously immunized against hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B: Recommended for all non-immune travelers at potential risk for acquiring this infection. Hepatitis B is transmitted via infected blood or bodily fluids. Travelers may be exposed by needle sharing and unprotected sex; from acupuncture, tattooing or body piercing; when receiving non-sterile medical or dental injections, or unscreened blood transfusions; by direct contact with open skin sores on an infected person. Recommended for long-term travelers, expatriates, and any traveler requesting protection against hepatitis B infection.
Influenza: Vaccination recommended for all travelers >6 months of age who have not received a flu shot in the previous 12 months.
Meningococcal (Meningitis): Vaccination with a quadrivalent vaccine (Menactra or Menomune) is advised for those travelers anticipating close contact with the indigenous population.
Polio: A one-time dose of IPV vaccine is recommended for any traveler >age 18 who completed the primary childhood series but never received an additional dose of polio vaccine as an adult. Available data do not indicate the need for more than a single lifetime booster dose with IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine).
Rabies: Rabies vaccine is recommended for: persons anticipating an extended stay; for those whose work or activities may bring them into contact with animals; for people going to rural or remote locations where medical care is not readily available; for travelers desiring extra protection.
Routine Immunizations: Immunizations against tetanus-diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR vaccine) and varicella (chickenpox) should be updated, if necessary, before departure. MMR protection is especially important for any female of childbearing age who may become pregnant.
• In addition to tetanus, all travelers, including adults, should be fully immunized against diphtheria. A booster dose of a diphtheria-containing vaccine (Td or Tdap vaccine) should be given to those who have not received a dose within the previous 10 years.
Note: ADACEL and Boostrix are new tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) vaccines that not only boost immunity against diphtheria and tetanus, but have the advantage of also protecting against pertussis (whooping cough), a serious disease in adults as well as children. The Tdap vaccines can be administered in place of the Td vaccine when a booster is indicated.
Typhoid: Recommended for all travelers with the exception of short-term visitors who restrict their meals to hotels or resorts.
Yellow Fever: Travelers >1 year of age entering the country from an endemic area are required to present a certificate of immunization against yellow fever.
Hospitals / Doctors
Medical facilities in The Gambia are very limited, some treatments are unavailable, and emergency services can be unpredictable and unreliable.
• All travelers should be up-to-date on their immunizations and are advised to carry a medical kit as well as antibiotics to treat travelers diarrhea or other infections; they should bring drugs for malaria prophylaxis, if needed according to their itinerary. Travelers who are taking regular medications should carry them properly labeled and in sufficient quantity to last for the duration of their trip; they should not expect to obtain prescription or over-the-counter drugs in local stores or pharmacies in this country - the equivalent drugs may not be available; may be counterfeit; or be of unreliable quality.
• Travelers are advised to obtain comprehensive travel insurance with specific overseas coverage, including air ambulance medevac. In the event of a serious illness or injury that can't be treated locally, every effort should be made to arrange medical evacuation to Europe.
Travelers should contact the U.S. Embassy in Banjul for hospital/physician referrals.
• Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital
Tel:  4228 223/4/5/6 and 4226152
This is a relatively new, but poorly funded 540-bed medical/surgical facility. Travelers requiring advanced care should be evacuated to Europe.
Destination Health Info for Travelers
AIDS/HIV: Heterosexual contact is the predominate mode of transmission of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. People in sub-Saharan Africa do not have many more lifetime partners than people in other parts of the world. However, researchers have found that in many areas it is not uncommon for people to have two or more regular sex partners at the same time, and someone who has two or more concurrent partners is more likely to transfer HIV between their partners than someone who has a series of monogamous relationships. This is one factor that helps to explain why HIV is more widespread in Africa. Other factors include widespread venereal disease, low rate of circumcision, resistance to the use of condoms, and under-funding of public health programs.
Both HIV prevalence rates and the numbers of people dying from AIDS vary greatly between African countries. In Somalia and Senegal the HIV prevalence is under 1% of the adult population, whereas in South Africa and Zambia around 15-20% of adults are infected with HIV. The national adult HIV prevalence rate now exceeds 20% in Botswana (24.1%), Lesotho (23.2%), Swaziland (33.4%) and Zimbabwe (20.1%). Adult HIV prevalence in East Africa exceeds 6% in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. West Africa has been less affected by AIDS, but the HIV prevalence rates in some countries are creeping up. HIV prevalence is estimated to exceed 5% in Cameroon (5.4%), Ivory Coast(7.1%) and Gabon (7.9%). (Source: www.Avert.org)
The adult HIV prevalence Gambia is 2.4% of the population 15-49.
• The development of AIDS should not be a primary concern for the traveler. However, there may be a concern for a subset of travelers who may be exposed to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through contact with another person’s body fluids or blood. Although travel has contributed in a general way to the global spread of AIDS, fear of traveling because of this disease is not warranted.
• Transmission of HIV can be prevented by avoiding: sexual contact with a high-risk partner; injecting drug use with shared needles; non-sterile medical injections; unscreened blood transfusions.
Accidents & Medical Insurance: Accidents and injuries are the leading cause of death among travelers under the age of 55 and are most often caused by motor vehicle and motorcycle crashes; drownings, aircraft crashes, homicides, and burns are lesser causes.
• Heart attacks cause most fatalities in older travelers.
• Infections cause only 1% of fatalities in overseas travelers, but, overall, infections are the most common cause of travel-related illness.
• Travelers are advised to obtain, prior to departure, supplemental travel health insurance with specific overseas coverage. The policy should provide for direct payment to the overseas hospital and/or physician at the time of service and include a medical evacuation benefit. The policy should also provide 24-hour hotline access to a multilingual assistance center that can help arrange and monitor delivery of medical care and determine if medevac or air ambulance services are required.
African Sleeping Sickness (Trypanosomiasis): Low-level transmission occurs countrywide, but levels are unclear. Travelers at most risk are those on safari and game-viewing holiday. Travelers to urban areas are at very low risk. The tsetse fly comes out in the early morning and the late afternoon. Insect repellent applied to the skin does not prevent tsetse fly bites, so travelers should wear protective clothing and sleep under a bed net.
• Initial symptoms: The bite of tsetse fly can be painful and may develop into a raised red sore, called a chancre. The initial sore may subside or develop into an expanding red, tender, swollen area, followed by a generalized illness with fever, myalgia, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, rigors, and sweats.
Read more: hthttp://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv/info/af_trypan-eng.php
Arboviral Diseases: There is evidence of chikungunya fever, West Nile fever, dengue fever, Rift Vally fever and Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever in this country, but levels are unclear. Travelers should take measures to prevent insect bites.
Cholera: This disease is reported active in this country, but the threat to tourists is low. Cholera vaccine is recommended only for relief workers or health care personnel who are working in a high-risk endemic area under less than adequate sanitary conditions, or travelers who work or live in remote, endemic or epidemic areas and who do not have ready access to medical care. Canada, Australia, and countries in the European Union license an oral cholera vaccine. The cholera vaccine is not available in the United States.
• The main symptom of more severe cholera is copious watery diarrhea.
• Antibiotic therapy is a useful adjunct to fluid replacement in the treatment of cholera by substantially reducing the duration and volume of diarrhea and thereby lessening fluid requirements and shortening the duration of hospitalization.
• A single 1-gm oral dose of azithromycin is effective treatment for severe cholera in adults. This drug is also effective for treating cholera in children. (NEJM:http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/short/354/23/2452)
Hepatitis: All travelers not previously immunized against hepatitis A should be vaccinated against this disease. Travelers who are non-immune to hepatitis A (i.e. have never had the disease and have not been vaccinated) should take particular care to avoid potentially contaminated food and water. Travelers who will have access to safe food and water are at lower risk. Those at higher risk include travelers visiting friends and relatives, long-term travelers, and those visiting areas of poor sanitation.
• Hepatitis E is endemic. Outbreaks have been reported from The Gambia. Transmission of the hepatitis E virus (HEV) occurs primarily through contaminated drinking water. Most outbreaks have occurred following monsoon rains and heavy flooding, with contamination of well water, or massive uptake of untreated sewage into water treatment plants. In developing countries, prevention of hepatitis E relies primarily on the provision of clean water supplies and overall improved sanitation and hygiene. There is no vaccine.
• Hepatitis B is hyperendemic. The overall hepatitis B (HBsAg) carrier rate in the general population is estimated at 10% or higher. (The carrier rate >14% in one study of children.) Hepatitis B is transmitted via infected blood or bodily fluids. Travelers may be exposed by needle sharing and unprotected sex; from non-sterile medical or dental injections, and acupuncture; from unscreened blood transfusions; by direct contact with open skin lesions of an infected person. The average traveler is at low risk for acquiring this infection. Vaccination against hepatitis B is recommended for: persons having casual/unprotected sex with new partners; sexual tourists; injecting drug users; long-term visitors; expatriates, and anybody wanting increased protection against the hepatitis B virus.
• Hepatitis C is endemic in the general population. The prevalence of hepatitis C in neighboring Senegal is 2.9%. Most hepatitis C virus (HCV) is spread either through intravenous drug use or, in lesser-developed countries, through blood contamination during medical procedures. Over 200 million people around the world are infected with hepatitis C — an overall incidence of around 3.3% of the population of the world. Statistically, as many people are infected with HCV as are with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Influenza: Influenza is transmitted year-round in the tropics. The flu vaccine is recommended for all travelers over age 6 months.
Leishmaniasis: Transmission occurs primarily from April through October. Risk may occur countrywide. Sporadic cases of cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis have been reported from clinics in the Farafenni and Banjul vicinities. The parasites that cause leishmaniasis are transmitted by the bite of the female phlebotomine sandfly. Sandflies bite mostly in the evening and at night. They breed in ubiquitous places: in organically rich, moist soils (such as found in the floors of rain forests), animal burrows, termite hills, and the cracks and crevices in stone or mud walls, and earthen floors, of human dwellings.
• All travelers should take measures to prevent sandfly bites. Insect-bite prevention measures include applying a DEET-containing repellent to exposed skin, permethrin (spray or solution) to clothing and gear, and sleeping under a permethrin-treated bednet.
Malaria: The risk of malaria is countrywide, including urban areas, year-round, with the peak transmission immediately following the rainy season, June through October.
• Prophylaxis with atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone), doxycycline, mefloquine (Lariam) or primaquine (G6PD test required) is recommended for all travelers.
A malaria map is located on the Fit for Travel website, which is compiled and maintained by experts from the Travel Health division at Health Protection Scotland (HPS). Go towww.fitfortravel.nhs.uk and select Malaria Map from the Gambia page on the Destinations menu or A-Z Index.
Malaria is transmitted via the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Anopheles mosquitoes feed predominantly during the hours from dusk to dawn. All travelers should take measures to prevent evening and nighttime mosquito bites. Insect-bite prevention measures include applying a DEET-containing repellent to exposed skin, applying permethrin spray or solution to clothing and gear, and sleeping under a permethrin-treated bednet. DEET-based repellents have been the gold standard of protection under circumstances in which it is crucial to be protected against insect bites that may transmit disease. Nearly 100% protection can be achieved when DEET repellents are used in combination with permethrin-treated clothing.
NOTE: Picardin repellents (20% formulation, such as Sawyer GoReady or Natrapel 8-hour) are now recommended by the CDC and the World Health Organization as acceptable non-DEET alternatives to protect against malaria-transmitting mosquito bites. Picaridin is also effective and ticks and biting flies.
• You should consider the diagnosis of malaria if you develop an unexplained fever during or after being in this country.
• Long-term travelers who may not have access to medical care should bring along medications for emergency self-treatment should they develop symptoms suggestive of malaria, such as fever, chills, headaches, and muscle aches, and cannot obtain medical care within 24 hours.
Meningitis: This country is located within in the meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa. Quadrivalent conjugate meningitis vaccine is recommended for those travelers anticipating living or working closely with local people. The risk is greatest in the dry season, from November to May/June. Vaccination should be considered for all travelers venturing into epidemic regions at any time of year.
• Areas in sub-Saharan Africa with frequent epidemics of meningococcal meningitis are found at: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowBookCh4-Menin.aspx#651
Other Diseases/Hazards: African tick typhus (also called boutonneuse fever)
• African tick-bite fever
• Anthrax (cutaneous and gastrointestinal forms reported)
• Filariasis (mosquito-borne; likely endemic at low levels)
• Onchocerciasis (black fly-borne; highly endemic foci have been reported along fast-flowing rivers in the east)
• Tick-borne relapsing fever.
Poliomyelitis (Polio): Due to the persistence of polio in sub-Saharan, all travelers need to be fully immunized. All children should be up-to-date in their polio immunizations. A one-time dose of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is recommended for any traveler >age 18 who completed the primary childhood series but never received an additional dose of polio vaccine as an adult.
Rabies: Sporadic cases of human rabies are reported countrywide. All animal bites or scratches, especially from a dog, should be taken seriously, and immediate medical attention sought. Access to rabies vaccine or rabies immune globulin may require emergency travel to another country. Although rabies is rare among tourists—there is risk. No one should pet or pick up any stray animals. All children should be warned to avoid contact with unknown animals.
• Pre-exposure rabies vaccine is recommended for: persons anticipating an extended stay; for those whose work or activities may bring them into contact with animals; for people going to rural or remote locations where medical care is not readily available; for travelers desiring extra protection. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals and may not report bites.
• Pre-exposure vaccination eliminates the need for rabies immune globulin, but does not eliminate the need for two additional booster doses of vaccine. Prompt medical evaluation and treatment of any animal bite is essential, regardless of vaccination status. Note: If adequate rabies treatment is not available locally, medical evacuation is advised to a facility that can provide treatment.
Schistosomiasis: Transmitted year-round; risk may be elevated during and immediately following the rainy season (usually June through October). Foci of Schistosoma haematobium likely are distributed primarily along the Gambia River. Limited foci of S. mansoni have been reported in the extreme southwestern corner of The Gambia, including the Banjul vicinity.
• Schistosomiasis is a parasitic flatworm infection of the intestinal or urinary system caused by one of several species of Schistosoma. Schistosomiasis is transmitted through exposure to contaminated water while wading, swimming, and bathing. Schistosoma larvae, released from infected freshwater snails, penetrate intact skin to establish infection. All travelers should avoid swimming, wading, or bathing in freshwater lakes, ponds, or streams. There is no risk in chlorinated swimming pools or in seawater.
Travelers' Diarrhea: High risk, except in tourist hotels in Banjul. Water-borne and food-borne diseases are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Outbreaks of diarrheal diseases are common during the rainy season. utside of hotels and resorts, we recommend that you boil, filter or purify all drinking water or drink only bottled water or other bottled beverages and do not use ice cubes. Avoid unpasteurized dairy products. Do not eat raw or undercooked food, especially meat, fish, raw vegetables. Peel all fruits.
• Good hand hygiene reduces the incidence of travelers’ diarrhea by 30%.
• A quinolone antibiotic, or azithromycin, combined with loperamide (Imodium), is recommended for the treatment of diarrhea. Diarrhea not responding to antibiotic treatment may be due to a parasitic disease such as giardiasis, amebiasis, or cryptosporidiosis.
• Seek qualified medical care if you have bloody diarrhea and fever, severe abdominal pain, uncontrolled vomiting, or dehydration.
Tuberculosis: Tuberculosis is a major public health problem in this country. Tuberculosis is highly endemic in The Gambia with an annual occurrence was greater than or equal to 40 cases per 100,000 population. Tuberculosis (TB) is transmitted following inhalation of infectious respiratory droplets. Most travelers are at low risk. Travelers at higher risk include those who are visiting friends and relatives (particularly young children), long-term travelers, and those who have close contact, prolonged contact with the local population. There is no prophylactic drug to prevent TB. Travelers with significant exposure should have PPD skin testing done to evaluate their risk of infection.
Typhoid Fever: Typhoid fever is the most serious of the Salmonella infections. Typhoid vaccine is recommended by the CDC for all people traveling to or working in sub-Saharan Africa, especially if visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas and staying with friends or relatives where exposure might occur through food or water. Current vaccines against Salmonella typhi are only 50-80% protective and do not protect against Salmonella paratyphi, the cause of paratyphoid fever. (Paratyphoid fever bears similarities with typhoid fever, but the course is generally more benign.) Travelers should continue to practice strict food, water and personal hygiene precautions, even if vaccinated.
Yellow Fever: Gambia requires travelers arriving from countries where yellow fever is present to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. Yellow fever vaccine is recommended for travelers >9 months of age traveling to this country.