Malaria - Prevention is better than Cure

Malaria is a tropical disease which is spread by mosquitoes. It is caused by a parasite which lives on the mosquito called plasmodium and it only takes one bite to become infected with the disease. It isn't found in the UK, but people can come back to the UK with the disease after contracting it in places like: Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the Middles East and some Pacific Islands.

In 2012, nearly 1400 people were diagnosed with malaria in the UK after travelling to the areas mentioned above and two of them actually died from the disease. Last year, that number was even higher - 1501 people were diagnosed with malaria in the UK and sadly seven of them died. lists the symptoms of the disease, which include a high fever (which comes and goes, for example one day there will be a high fever, then no fever for a couple of days, then high fever again), nausea, body ache and chills. Malaria can take up to 18 days to set in and it is usually between seven and 18 days after a bite that most people begin to get the symptoms. Therefore, making the connection between a mosquito bite and the symptoms that appear several days later is not necessarily obvious to the individuals that are affected by the disease.

There are four different forms of malaria and the deadliest form is called Plasmodium falciparum. If an infection by Plasmodium falciparum is left untreated, it can cause “organ failure, impaired consciousness, coma and even death” within the space of a few days.

Although most people in the UK recover from malaria, a report published by The Malaria Journal has shown that malaria infections have an effect on children's brains long after they have recovered. Children are more at risk of “post malarial cognitive impairment” which includes impaired school performance and cognitive abilities, even after recovery.

It is a lot easier to prevent malaria than to cure it. If you are going to a country where mosquitoes carry the malaria parasite, make sure you get hold of anti-malaria tablets. Ask your GP about the place you are travelling to, as they will know if you will be at risk of malaria or not. Alternatively, you can check the risk of your destination online, as well as which type of anti-malaria tablets is more appropriate for this country.

Ironically, the same drugs that are used to prevent malaria are also used to cure it, so it makes sense to take the tablets anyway and not be infected in the first place. If you want to take extra caution on holiday, then be sure to cover your arms and legs so mosquitoes cannot land on your skin. Using insect repellent is another useful tip that can potentially protect you from contracting the disease, also, sleeping under a mosquito net is another safety measure you can take.

If you're going to a country that has a high risk of malaria, don't be frightened of getting the disease, just make sure you take the right medical precautions before you travel.


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