Although there are no required vaccinations to visit the Dominican Republic, people often ask us what they need to do to prepare medically to volunteer with Outreach360. There are two general approaches that people, including travel physicians, often use:
- “Protect me against anything that might affect me.” This is the most conservative approach, and involves the most vaccinations and medicines. This is usually the approach taken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- “I don’t want to take any powerful medicines unless I absolutely have to.” This approach involves more of a focus on actively preventing the disease during your time in the Dominican Republic.
The issues encountered in the Dominican Republic are similar and include:
We strongly recommend that your tetanus booster is up to date in volunteering in both countries.
Malaria exists in the Dominican Republic where we work. Per the CDC, ways to prevent malaria include the following:
- Taking a prescription antimalarial drug.
- Using insect repellent and wearing long pants and sleeves to prevent mosquito bites.
- Sleeping in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms or using bed nets.
We estimate that 50% of the volunteers who join Outreach360 take malaria medication. As far as we know, no Outreach360 volunteers have contracted malaria during their time with us. We encourage people to use mosquito repellent, especially in the early morning and evening hours. We do provide window screens, mosquito nets, or both.
If you decide to take an antimalarial drug for your trip to the Dominican Republic, Atovaquone/ proguanil, chloroquine, doxycycline, or mefloquine are equal options for preventing malaria.
Th Zika virus seems to have run it’s course in the Dominican Republic. The last mention of the Zika virus in the DR1 daily news (dr1.com) was on November 24, 2016:
Both Zika and dengue have decreased The Public Health Ministry’s Epidemiology Department reports that there has been a notable decrease in cases of Zika and Dengue fever as well as other diseases associated with mosquitoes.* On Friday, 18 November 2016 the World Health Organization (WHO) and its regional partner, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) officially declared that ZikaÂ was no longer a health emergency in the Dominican Republic. The epidemiology reports for weeks 43 and 44 of 2016 registered barely six cases of Zika in Greater Santo Domingo and the province of Azua. The Public Health Ministry reported the incidence of the main diseases of obligatory notification, including the six suspected cases of Zika, five of which affect residents in Santo Domingo and one in Azua, one case affecting a woman in the 21st week of pregnancy. Over the last four weeks suspected cases of Zika have been recorded in 12 cities, including Santo Domingo West with five cases, Santo Domingo East with two cases, and the National District and Santiago with two cases each.
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Chikungunya arrived to the Dominican Republic in 2012. In 2014, the cases of Chikungunya in the Dominican Republic have increased significantly. However, as of June 2014, there were no confirmed cases of Chikungunya in the Monte Cristi region. The CDC has issued a “Watch Level 1 – Practice Usual Precautions” for Chikungunya in the Caribbean. Precautions include sleeping under a mosquito net or in a screened room, using insect repellent, covering up in the evenings and mornings (and when the mosquitoes are bad), and more. For more information, please review the CDC info here and here.
Dengue is another viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. As there is no commercially available vaccine, prevention is sought by reducing the habitat and the number of mosquitoes and limiting exposure to bites. Precautions include sleeping under a mosquito net or in a screened room (provided by Outreach360), using insect repellent, covering up especially in the evenings and mornings (and when the mosquitoes are bad), and more. For more information, please review the CDC info.
Hepatitis A can be contracted from contaminated food and water. Because we use all bottled water in food preparation, dishes are washed in chlorinated water, and our own cooks are preparing the meals, we feel the risk for Hepatitis A is relatively small. That said, Hepatitis A can be contracted anywhere, and getting the vaccination is probably a wise idea not just for this trip but for the long term benefits of having the vaccination.
Typhoid is most often acquired through the consumption of contaminated food or water. Because the meals you are eating have been prepared in Outreach360 kitchens using bottled water, we believe the risk is minimal. We do not know of any case of a volunteer contracting typhoid during their time with us. Per the CDC website:
- CDC recommends typhoid vaccine for travelers to areas where there is a recognized increased risk of exposure to S. Typhi.
- The typhoid vaccines currently available do not offer protection against S. Paratyphi infection.
- Travelers should be reminded that typhoid immunization is not 100% effective, and typhoid fever could still occur.
- Two typhoid vaccines are currently available in the United States.
- Oral live, attenuated vaccine (Vivotif vaccine, manufactured from the Ty21a strain of S.Typhi by Crucell/Berna) (Updated July 27, 2009)
- Vi capsular polysaccharide vaccine (ViCPS) (Typhim Vi, manufactured by sanofi pasteur) for intramuscular use
- Both vaccines protect 50%–80% of recipients.
Please review the CDC country specific sites for full and complete information regarding prevention: