Malaria: Everything You Need To Know Book Now
Many of us have been bitten by the travel bug as once you start exploring the world, it’s hard to stop. However, malaria is a serious concern when visiting certain countries or specific areas within a region. People visiting friends and relatives in West Africa, for example, account for the highest number of malaria cases returning to the UK each year. Before you embark on your journey, we highly recommend reading this guide and contacting the travel clinic at Chippenham Pharmacy.
What Is Malaria?
Malaria is a serious and sometimes deadly disease caused by the Plasmodium parasite. It is transmitted to people and animals through the bites of female Anopheles spp. mosquitoes which occur mostly between dusk and dawn. While malaria is a disease of poverty that thrives in areas with little or no access to health care, it is prevalent in tropical regions with Africa reporting the majority of cases.
There are four types of Plasmodium that can cause malaria in humans, namely P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. malariae. While all four types of Plasmodium can cause disease, P. falciparum is by far the most deadly, accounting for the vast majority of malaria deaths worldwide. The most vulnerable groups include the following:
- Children aged under 5 years
- Pregnant women
- People aged over 65
- Those with a weak immune system
- People who have no spleen
What Are The Most Common Malaria Symptoms?
Malaria symptoms usually start 7-18 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. However, symptoms may not appear for weeks, months and in rare cases, even years. If you develop any symptoms, seek medical attention immediately as the disease can progress rapidly and become life-threatening without effective treatment. While often hard to identify, the most common symptoms include the following:
- High temperature, sweats and chills
- Headaches and feeling confused
- Extreme fatigue and sleepiness (especially in children)
- Nausea, stomach pain and diarrhoea
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pains
- Anaemia and jaundice (yellow colouring of the skin and eyes)
- Sore throat, cough and difficulty breathing
As such, travellers must take every precaution, including malaria prevention tablets, visiting a travel clinic and keeping an eye on government guidelines as set out by Public Health England (PHE) Advisory Committee on Malaria Prevention (ACMP).
What Are The Treatment Options?
While there is currently no one-off travel vaccine for malaria as there is for hepatitis and typhoid, for example, GSK is working on a vaccine to be used in Africa. Perhaps over time a travel vaccine may become more readily available but until then, the best travel advice to protect against malaria is as follows:
- Take antimalarial tablets before arriving in a high-risk area according to your travel health professional. It’s important to not miss a tablet as it could lead to infection
- When travelling to an area with limited access to medical care, you may be advised to carry a course of standby emergency treatment (SBET)
- Avoid getting bitten by applying mosquito repellent with DEET (diethyltoluamide) to exposed skin
- Drape mosquito netting over beds
- Put screens on windows and doors
- Treat clothing, mosquito nets, tents, sleeping bags and other fabrics with an insect repellent called permethrin
Which Areas Have A High Risk Of Malaria?
As mentioned earlier, malaria is widespread in many tropical and subtropical countries. However, the risk can vary within different parts of the same country, between neighbouring countries, and at different times of the year. While the list of countries is exhaustive, it includes places like
- DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo)
- and many more
It’s best to do some research and consult with a travel clinic. They will be able to provide the most up-to-date information but for a good overview, you can look at a risk map as shown below:
Image Source: GS International | Fit For Travel NHS
When Should I Visit A Travel Clinic?
Did you know that in 2019, there were around 229 million cases of malaria globally and 409,000 deaths? With numbers like that, it’s important to visit a travel clinic for more information on the region or regions you are travelling to, prevention advice and treatment options.
When travelling to a high-risk region, you may need to start taking the prescribed antimalarial medication a few days or weeks before your trip. However, you can still get travel advice at the last minute if necessary. In addition to prescribed medication to reduce the risk of becoming infected, travel clinics can provide valuable advice on preventing mosquito bites and what to do in an emergency.
Chippenham Pharmacy And Travel Clinic At Your Service
No matter your destination, our travel clinic in Chippenham will help you travel safely and stay protected throughout your journey. Our travel and healthcare experts can administer all types of travel vaccinations and prescribe whichever antimalarial medication you may need.
We also provide the latest health information and advice to ensure you fully understand the potential risks involved, including malaria prevention tips. If you need travel vaccines, our Chippenham travel clinic offers everything from Hepatitis A & Typhoid to Japanese Encephalitis and Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccinations.
The initial consultation is £25 per adult and £10 per child (under 18) which involves our experts assessing your individual requirements relative to your country of destination. For more information on malaria prevention and travel advice, book a consultation today!