For all you travellers seeking to broaden your horizons, to jet off to places warm and exotic, latitudinally below our temperate island, we’d be fibbing if we said we weren’t just a little envious. I mean, yes; April has been kind to us here in the United Kingdom, and some of us even managed to get some sun.
But the allure of the tropics, the excitement of new experiences; sometimes we forget about the health risks, and leave thinking about it to the last minute.
So what’s the big deal about Malaria?
I grew up in East Africa and, for me; the hype was something of an enigma. Naturally, I enjoyed what I always believed was the perfect climate; the seemingly endless days of sunshine; never “too hot” and never properly cold either, the occasional stormy period to make you appreciate the sun even more.
Consequently, when I first came to Europe and watched people preparing to visit my homeland or countries nearby, visiting doctors and purchasing what seemed to be entirely unnecessary cocktails of tablets and lotions, I was amused. To me it was just home, beautiful, bountiful home.
Today, with a greater understanding of the disease that comes from research and a little more experience – the importance of preparation and prevention for those that need it the most is not lost on me.
After all, it is estimated that over 3 billion people are at risk of being susceptible to the Malaria.
So we have prepared a handy little guide that will allow you to spend your time away unperturbed by a particularly powerful and pestilential parasite; Plasmodium A.K.A the bug that causes Malaria.
What is Malaria Exactly?
- Malaria is a life-threatening disease that claimed the lives of over half a million people in 2013.
- It is transmitted in the bite of the Anopheles mosquito and makes its way into the victim’s bloodstream where it proceeds to multiply
- The symptoms of the disease appear over a week after the bite from the infected mosquito and include chills, vomiting, fever and other flu like symptoms.
- If left untreated, symptoms can progress and cause death.
How You Can Protect Yourself
Firstly, be prepared. Research is your friend. Find out whether your destination is in an affected area.
You can find out if you are at risk at the Fit For Travel website or you can call Instant e-Care Online Doctor & Pharmacy where the Pharmacist will be able to help you determine if you need malaria tablets, the malaria tablets most suited to you.
Secondly, read up on how your can avoid bites.
The NHS advises:
In both cases, advice is available from Instant e-Care Online Doctor & Pharmacy. Your choice of clothing is important; the less skin is exposed the fewer bites you will suffer. But who wants to wander about in the tropical heat wearing a nun’s habit? Probably not many people. So, use insect repellent. Available as sprays or lotions, it’s worth investing in enough to last you through your trip.
Antimalarial treatments must be started before you make your trip because your body needs to build up its immunity. Common side effects of the drugs mimic those of the disease; headaches, nausea and vomiting. How soon before your trip you need to start will depend on the treatment that you choose.
Anti-Malaria Treatments Available
Malarone is the most popular anti-malarial option and one of its key advantages is that you only need to start taking it two days before you leave for your journeys and must continue taking the required dose until you’ve been back from the region in question for seven days.
Doxycycline is the lowest cost malaria tablets available, with the same time advantage as Malarone in that one only needs to start two days before your trip.
Unlike Malarone, the treatment must be taken for four weeks after your return from the affected region. A disadvantage is that users of this treatment experience extra sensitivity to sunlight and are therefore advised to wear sunscreen (factor 30 or higher) and protective clothing.
Lariam is unique in that a dose is required only once a week.
It is necessary to begin the treatment with Lariam ten days before departure and to carry on with it for four weeks after your return. An added side effect is Insomnia.
All these treatments are continuous and therefore their success is contingent upon your completing the dose as per instructions. It is advisable to go over this with a doctor or pharmacist before you start the treatment.
Now that you have the facts, we hope that you can enjoy your time away safe in the knowledge that you are protected.
We look forward to receiving one of those smug “Wish you were here” postcards letting us know that Malaria is definitely not on the cards for you.
Prepared for you by, Aggie Kayabo
Malaria. Fitfortravel, NHS
Malaria Fact Sheet. The World Health Organisation. (April 2015).