Malaria

Malaria is a parasitic infection spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers going to endemic areas in Africa, South America and Asia are at high risk of contracting the disease.

Each year over one thousand people return to the U.K. with the disease.

To avoid the risk of catching malaria, and other diseases spread by mosquitoes, a four step,

ABCD approach to prevention should be adopted.

A
Be Aware of your risk. It is very important to tell your travel health adviser.

  1. Where you are going.
  2. When you are going.
  3. How long you will be there for.
  4. What you will be doing when there.

Malarious areas can vary even within one country.

B
Bite Prevention.

Use measures to prevent being bitten. Not everyone who is bitten will produce a strong reaction, so you may not know you have been bitten at all.

Other diseases such as, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and zika virus, are transmitted by mosquitoes, who may bite in the day time as well, so bite prevention should be taken seriously 24 hours a day.

Insect repellents should contain 50% DEET.

Do not get repellent near your eyes or mouth.

If using sun cream always apply the sun cream first, allow it to dry, and then apply the repellent.

DEET will hamper the effectiveness of the SPF in the sun cream, so always use a cream with at least a factor 30 SPF.

An air conditioned room is the most effective protection when sleeping at night, as long as the air conditioning is working, as the mosquitoes can’t get in.

If you’re staying in a room with window screens, close them in the early evening, and spray the room with a knockdown spray, to kill any mosquitoes already in the room.

If going to a high risk area, and staying in accommodation without safe air conditioning, you would be advised to use a net, which should be impregnated with insect repellent.

C
Chemoprophylaxis – The prevention of disease using chemical drugs.

There are a variety of different malaria tablets to choose from in the U.K. The type you will be prescribed will depend on the area in the world you are travelling to, and if there is any resistance of the medication by the malaria parasite in the country you are visiting.

It is vital that you discuss the options with your travel adviser to select the right drug for you and your destination.

Certain tablets for the higher risk malarious areas are prescription only medicines.

The prescription can be provided from your G.P. surgery, although you can now get them prescribed after a risk assessment in some pharmacies and even online.

If you choose to go to an online provider you must ensure it is a bona fide source, as counterfeit drugs are a growing problem.

D
Diagnosis
and prompt treatment.

Symptoms of Malaria

Malaria presents with nonspecific flu like symptoms, there is usually a fever, headache, cough and sometimes diarrhoea.

Most cases of malaria occur one to three months after returning from your trip, but can happen as late as twelve months after return.

If you have any of these symptoms go to your doctor immediately and say that you have been abroad and may have malaria.

It is vital that you are seen urgently- you will need an immediate test to check whether or not you have malaria.

The most dangerous type of malaria that can affect humans is Plasmodium Falciparum, in rare circumstances this can prove fatal within 24 hours of developing the symptoms. It is therefore vitally important to remember these symptoms of malaria and act promptly if you suffer them by seeking urgent medical help.

Public Health England Mosquito Bite avoidance leaflet.