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What we have to say about your health and well being
12
Apr 2016
Malaria by Sabina Mohmed

Although not prevelant in the UK, malaria is something most people are aware of.

For many people going abroad to exotic climates, as well as sun lotion and beach wear, they also need to think about malaria prevention. Customers often ask me, 'Do I need tablets?' The simple answer is, if it is recommended then yes. It takes just a single infected mosquito to infect a person, and it is not worth taking the risk. Malaria is a serious but preventable disease caused by the parasite Plasmodium. (1)

Symptoms of malaria can develop as quickly as seven days after you're bitten by an infected mosquito.

Typically, the time between being infected and when symptoms start is 7 to 18 days, However, in some cases it can take up to a year for symptoms to develop. (2)

It is difficult to diagnose as the initial symptoms of malaria are flu-like and include:

  • a high temperature (fever)
  • headache
  • sweats
  • chills
  • vomiting

With some types of malaria, the fever occurs in 48-hour cycles. During these cycles, you feel cold at first with shivering. You then develop a fever, accompanied by severe sweating and fatigue. These symptoms usually last between 6 and 12 hours.

Other symptoms of malaria can include:

  • muscle pains
  • diarrhoea
  • generally feeling unwell

As well as anti malarials, patients can use a number of simple steps to prevent being bitten.

  • Wear insect repellent: Yes! It is safe. When used as directed, insect repellent is the BEST way to protect yourself from mosquito bites—even children and pregnant women should protect themselves.
  • Cover up: When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially between sunrise and sunset.
  • Keep mosquitoes outside:
  1. Use air conditioning or make sure that you repair and use window/door screens.
  2. Keep car windows closed as you travel around.
  3. avoid camping near water, such as ponds and swamps – mosquitoes are commonly found near water.

For some countries, the medical recommendation is that tablets are needed to prevent malaria. The most common tablet, chloroquine and proguanil, can be purchased from local pharmacies or chemists. All other drugs require a doctor's prescription.

Your pharmacist can discuss with you the most appropriate medication and advise you how to obtain these. It is also important you take them as advised.

  1. Start before travel as guided by your travel health advisor (with some tablets you should start three weeks before).
  2. Take the tablets absolutely regularly, preferably with or after a meal.
  3. It is extremely important to continue to take them for four weeks after you have returned, to cover the incubation period of the disease. Atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone®) requires only 7 days post-travel). (4)

It is important to remember that no medication is 100% effective, but together with sensible precautions to prevent bites, you can have an enjoyable holiday.

References

( ) https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/malaria-guidance-data-and-analysis

( ) http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Malaria/pages/symptoms.aspx.

( ) http://www.cdc.gov/features/stopmosquitoes/

( ) http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/malaria.aspx#malariatablets

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