World Mosquito Day 2019 takes place on Tuesday 20th August
World Mosquito Day is an annual event that commemorates the findings of British doctor Sir Ronald Ross, back in 1897. Ross was responsible for the discovery that female mosquitoes can transmit malaria between humans.
Nowadays, World Mosquito Day is used as an opportunity to spread awareness about malaria, including the areas where you are most at risk and ways to prevent the condition from impacting you.
The fight against malaria goes on
Since Ross’s discovery more than a century ago, the number of people diagnosed with malaria has reached into the billions. In 2017 alone, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria across 87 countries, but 90% of these cases occurred within sub-Saharan Africa.
Today, despite all the technological and medicinal advances we have made, it remains the case that a child dies of malaria every two minutes.
Malaria is caused by parasites which are transmitted to people via the bites of infected female Anopheles mosquitos. Symptoms can take a while to occur – 10-15 days after being bitten typically – and initial symptoms are often mild. These include headaches, fever and chills.
However, if left untreated, some strands of malaria can progress to severe illness and even death.
There are five species of the Plasmodium parasites which can lead to malaria in humans. Two of these species pose the greatest threat, and these are P.falciparum and P.vivax.
P.falciparum accounts for roughly 99.7% of malaria cases in the World Health Organisation (WHO) African Region, and most cases across the globe. Meanwhile, P.vivax is responsible for almost three quarters of malaria cases in the WHO Region of the Americas.
All travellers should be aware of malaria
Malaria is a very real threat to the health and wellbeing of travellers, so if you’re planning on jetting off further afield in the coming months, you need to be aware of the condition in order to effectively protect yourself against it.
In total, malaria has been found in more than 100 countries, so it is important to research your destination closely. It is mainly found in tropical regions, and these largely include:
- Large areas of Africa and Asia
- Central and South America
- Haiti and the Dominican Republic
- Parts of the Middle East
- Some Pacific Islands
If any of these locations are places you are planning to visit, it is vital that you take the necessary steps in order to protect yourself from contracting malaria. This includes reducing your risk of being bitten with mosquito nets and sprays, and protecting yourself against infection with antimalarial medication.
The NHS offers a handy ABCD approach to protecting yourself against malaria, making it easy to remember.
The ABCD approach to malaria is:
- A: Awareness of Risk — research your destination and find out your risk of contracting malaria while you’re away. Do this before you travel.
- B: Bite prevention — avoid mosquito bites by covering your arms and legs with light layers, sleeping below an insecticide-treated mosquito net and spraying insect repellent.
- C: Check where you need to take malaria prevention tablets — Seek out the right medication for you, and make sure you finish the course you are given.
- D: Diagnosis — If you develop any malaria symptoms, seek immediate medical advice. This is true for up to a year after you return from travelling.