Yaye Die Ndiaye, Awa Deme, Mame Cheikh Seck, Jules Francois Gomis, Daouda Ndiaye, Sarah K. Volkman, Mady Ba, Rachel Daniels, Julie Thwing, Medoune Ndiop, Fatou Ba Fall
Malaria transmission in Senegal is highly stratified, from low in the dry north to moderately high in the moist south. In northern Senegal, along the Senegal River Valley and in the Ferlo semi-desert region, annual incidence is less than five cases per 1000 inhabitants. Many nomadic pastoralists have permanent dwellings in the Ferlo Desert and Senegal River Valley, but spend dry season in the south with their herds, returning north when the rains start, leading to a concern that this population could contribute to ongoing transmission in the north. A modified snowball sampling survey was conducted at six sites in northern Senegal to determine the malaria prevention and treatment seeking practices and parasite prevalence among nomadic pastoralists in the Senegal River Valley and the Ferlo Desert. Nomadic pastoralists aged 6 months and older were surveyed during September and October 2014, and data regarding demographics, access to care and preventive measures were collected. Parasite infection was detected using rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), microscopy (thin and thick smears) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Molecular barcodes were determined by high resolution melting (HRM). Of 1800 participants, 61% were male. Sixty-four percent had at least one bed net in the household, and 53% reported using a net the night before. Only 29% had received a net from a mass distribution campaign. Of the 8% (142) who reported having had fever in the last month, 55% sought care, 20% of whom received a diagnostic test, one-third of which (n = 5) were reported to be positive. Parasite prevalence was 0.44% by thick smear and 0.50% by PCR. None of the molecular barcodes identified among the nomadic pastoralists had been previously identified in Senegal. While access to and utilization of malaria control interventions among nomadic pastoralists was lower than the general population, parasite prevalence was lower than expected and sheds doubt on the perception that they are a source of ongoing transmission in the north. The National Malaria Control Program is making efforts to improve access to malaria prevention and case management for nomadic populations.