Malaria is a deadly tropical disease that is spread by mosquitoes. Malaria is caused by a type of parasite known as Plasmodium.
There are many different types of Plasmodia parasites, but only five cause malaria in humans. The Plasmodium parasite is mainly spread by female Anopheles mosquitoes, appearing at night in order to bite their victims. When an infected mosquito bites, it injects the parasites into your body. If Malaria is not diagnosed or treated promptly, it can be fatal.
It is important to be aware of the symptoms of malaria if you are travelling to areas where there is a high malaria risk (see below). Symptoms can include:
a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above vomiting sweats and chills muscle pains headaches diarrhoea
Malaria is a potential threat in more than 100 countries, mainly in tropical regions of the world including:
large parts of Africa and Asia Central and South America Haiti and the Dominican Republic parts of the Middle East some Pacific islands, such as Papua New Guinea
Areas at risk of malaria can change or indeed develop over time. Please consult the the NHS Fit for Travel website for up to date information regarding Malaria.
In 2010, over 1,700 travellers contracted malaria upon returning to the UK, wth 7 people dying. Often, malaria can be avoided, provided the necessary precautions are observed. An easy way to remember is what is referred to as the ABCD approach to prevention (as recommended by the NHS):
- Awareness of risk: find out whether you’re at risk of getting malaria before travelling.
- Bite prevention: avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent, covering your arms and legs and using an insecticide- treated mosquito net.
- Check whether you need to take malaria prevention tablets: if you do, ensure you take the right antimalarial tablets, at the right dose and that you finish the course.
- Diagnosis: seek immediate medical advice if you develop malaria-like symptoms, including up to a year after you return from travelling.
Speak to your GP or Travel Clinic if you are planning to visit an area where there is a malaria risk. It may be recommended that you take antimalarial tablets to prevent infection.
As mentioned above, it is important to cover yourself if you go out at night, and to apply DEET insect repellent. Most importantly, contact your travel clinician so that he can explain the risks of your travel destination to you. In most cases, a course of malaria tablets will be recommended for the the duration of your stay. Our online consultation service, Express Pharmacy offers malaria tablets at the cheapest prices in the UK. Alternatively, malaria tablets are available to purchase at Express Travel Clinic.