The latest report from the WHO reveals startling figures about the tropical blood disease

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently published their World Malaria Report 2018. This provides the most up to date figures regarding one of the world’s deadliest and most common tropical parasites.

The report reveals that, in 2017, an estimated 219 million cases of malaria occurred. These incidents were reported to have arisen across 90 different countries. The report also shows that, while there were an estimated 20 million fewer cases of malaria in 2017 than in 2010, there has been no significant progress in reducing the number of global malaria cases across 2015-2017.

The most common areas for malaria contraction in 2017 were in the WHO African Region, which reported 200 million cases of malaria, therefore accounting for 92% of all reported cases. The next highest risk area was the WHO South-East Asia Region with 5% of cases, followed by the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region with 2%.

There were 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and India which were home to almost 80% of all global malaria cases in 2017. What’s more, 5 countries carried almost half of the global malaria burden. These were Nigeria (25%), Democratic Republic of Congo (11%), Mozambique (5%), India (4%) and Uganda (4%).

The overall conclusion of this report is that malaria continues to be a huge threat to natives of these areas, as well as travellers planning trips to tropical locations that carry the parasite. It is still imperative that anybody who is considering travelling far-afield takes the time to understand the condition and invest in appropriate treatment.

What causes malaria?

Malaria is one of the world’s most common tropical blood diseases, and is contracted via a mosquito bite. The mosquito carries the malaria parasite itself, then passes it on as it makes contact with a human host.

The malaria parasite is known as plasmodium, and there are actually 5 strands of the plasmodium parasite which are known to cause malaria in humans. The cycle of malaria begins when an infected anopheles mosquito bites a human. Within half an hour, the malaria parasite enters the liver and begins to rapidly reproduce. Some parasites can lay dormant in the liver for years, others get to work quickly.

From the liver, the parasite enters the bloodstream and gets inside red blood cells. Here, it reproduces even further until the cells burst and infect the other red blood cells surrounding it.

This cycle repeats and repeats, eventually depleting the body’s oxygen supply and leading to severe fever. A dormant version of the parasite travels through the bloodstream and awaits ingestion by another mosquito, starting the whole process over again.

Take effective steps against malaria

There are precautions you can take abroad to help reduce your risk of contracting malaria. This can include wearing loose, long-sleeved clothing and liberally spraying insect repellents. You should also make use of mosquito nets and screen doors, especially during the night.

However, these precautions alone are not enough to guarantee protection from malaria. The most effective way to avoid malaria is with effective antimalarial medication. This can be taken before, during and after your travels, and works by trapping the parasite and stopping it from reproducing. This allows your body’s natural immune system to kill off the parasite with ease and stop the condition taking hold.

If you’re planning a tropical winter break, be sure to stay safe and get the right medical intervention before disaster strikes. Contact our team at Express Travel Clinic today by calling 0208 993 58 89 or by clicking here to book an appointment.