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Dengue Fever in Burkina Faso: Everything You Need to Know

Dengue Fever in Burkina Faso

There is an outbreak of Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease, in Burkina Faso with a surge in cases and fatalities. As of October 15, 2023, the West African nation has recorded 50,478 suspected cases and 214 tragic deaths. The situation is particularly dire in the urban centres of Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso, where the majority of cases and fatalities have been concentrated.

Dengue Fever in Burkina Faso

About 20% of the reported cases and deaths occurred within a single week in October. According to the Ministry of Health, the ongoing epidemic is not only a result of the Dengue virus but is accompanied by the appearance of chikungunya, another mosquito-borne disease. Chikungunya, while causing illness, has not resulted in any fatalities thus far. However, the presence of these two mosquito-borne diseases paints a worrying picture for public health in the region.

Dengue Fever: A Growing Global Threat

Dengue fever is a global health challenge, killing an estimated 20,000 people worldwide each year. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that rates of the disease have increased eightfold since 2000, driven primarily by factors such as climate change, the increased movement of people, and urbanization. The World Health Organization has sounded the alarm about the potential spread of dengue in new areas of Africa as warming temperatures create the ideal conditions for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit the virus.

The Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Dengue fever is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and presents symptoms that include high fever, muscle pain, severe headache, nausea, and a characteristic skin rash. Left untreated or misdiagnosed, which is common in areas with limited access to healthcare, dengue fever can become fatal.

Burkina Faso’s Battle Against Dengue

The Burkinabe government, in response to the epidemic, has taken several measures to counter its spread. These include providing free rapid diagnostic tests and conducting campaigns to spray insecticides in public places. These efforts are vital in breaking the chain of transmission and reducing the risk of infection, but the situation remains dire.

A Disturbing Comparison

Burkina Faso’s current dengue outbreak is significantly more severe than previous African outbreaks in recent years. According to figures from the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, dengue claimed the lives of 18 people in Burkina Faso, and in 2016, 15 lives were lost due to the disease. The drastic increase in cases and fatalities underscores the urgency of addressing this public health crisis.

Preventative Measures and Vaccines

Prevention is key in the spread of Dengue fever. It is essential for individuals in affected areas to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves, and using bed nets. Furthermore, eliminating standing water sources where mosquitoes breed is crucial.

While there are dengue vaccines available, such as Dengvaxia and Qdenga, these are recommended primarily for individuals who have previously been infected with dengue and for regions with a high burden of the disease. Therefore, vaccination alone cannot be the sole solution for tackling the current crisis in Burkina Faso.

Seeking Immediate Medical Attention

It is important that individuals who experience symptoms of dengue, such as high fever, severe headache, muscle pain, or rash, seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and appropriate care can significantly improve the chances of survival.

The Way Forward

The dengue outbreak in Burkina Faso posed a challenge to West Africa. While authorities are taking measures to contain the outbreak, international cooperation, increased healthcare infrastructure, and long-term strategies to address climate change are crucial components of any comprehensive response.


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