If you’ve got the holiday bug and are planning to escape a soggy British Bank Holiday weekend check if your destination is a malaria hotspot before you jet off or sunbathing may be the last thing on your mind.
According to the Health Protection Agency between 1990-2009 around 1900 people returned to the UK with malaria every year.
It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to get malaria. The disease is preventable, but can be fatal if left untreated. The symptoms of malaria are non-specific and can include fever, sweats and chills, muscle pain, diarrhoea, cough, headaches and generally feeling unwell. You may not know you have contracted malaria as the symptoms take weeks or even months to appear.
There are many myths about what prevents malaria but we can confirm that eating garlic, drinking gin and tonic or eating marmite on toast will not protect you from contracting this potentially deadly disease. Antimalarial medication must be taken before, during and after your trip. There are a number of anti-malarials available – speak to your GP surgery, travel clinic or pharmacy for up to date advice. More information is available at www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk
Malaria is endemic in more than 100 countries and is found throughout the sub-tropical regions of the world and malarial hotspots can change. To check if your travel destination is malarial visit malariahotspots.co.uk
To avoid being bitten apply exposed skin with an insect repellent containing 20-50% DEET which can be applied on top of sun block. Mosquitoes are at their most active between dusk and dawn. Sleeping under a mosquito net impregnated with permethrin can help provide you with protection.