Nearly half of our planets population (more than 3 billion people) are living in high, medium or low risk malaria areas. Even though there has been a massive progress in curing and preventing this disease, it still causes many deaths each year and unfortunately most of them are here in Africa.
When you’re on a holiday you really don’t want to have to worry about something as unpleasant as malaria, but at the same time you want to keep the risk of contracting the disease as low as possible.
Here are a few steps to help prevent Malaria:
Awareness of the risk.
Well, before you take steps to prevent contraction, you have to know if you’re going into a Malaria risk area. The best advice is to see a travel clinic as they have the most up to date information on high risk areas and can also prescribe you any medication that you might need.
The disease is caused by a parasite living inside of mosquito’s, and is passed on to humans by their bites. So the most effective way to avoid getting malaria is to avoid getting bitten!
• Use an effective mosquito repellent (Diethyltoluamide(DEET)- concentration 20% or higher) on bare skin and cloths! You can find really reliable and effective products in most shops and pharmacies nowadays.
• Use mosquito nets if you sleep outdoors or in an unscreened room. Mosquitos are most active at night time.
• Wear long, loose fitting cloths even if it’s warm outside.
Antimalarial medication – Chemoprophylaxis/Malaria Prophylaxis
Luckily there is malaria-preventive medication.
• Check with a doctor or travel clinic which is the best type of medication for the area you are travelling to since the types of malaria vary between different parts of the world. Also the parasite has become resistant to certain medicines in some areas.
• Make sure that your malaria medication won’t be in conflict with any other medication you currently take.
• The most important thing is taking antimalarial medication exactly as prescribed. Don’t stop taking it too soon since the disease can still occur weeks after you returned from the malaria risk area.
Diagnosis and treatment
If you follow all of our advice above, it is really unlikely that you will contract Malaria, but if you feel sick at any point up to 3 weeks after being in a high risk zone, it is really important to diagnose and treat it as quickly as possible. The most common symptom of malaria is a high temperature fever but the disease can also cause diarrhoea, sweating, backache, joint pains, headache, vomiting or losing the ability to speak/ think clearly.
If any of those symptoms show up a few days or even weeks after you returned from your holiday seek medical advice immediately! The more you wait the harder it is to cure the disease.
Don’t freak out after reading all of this! Thousands of people travel through Africa every week and don’t contract Malaria. But it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So don’t be too afraid and enjoy your trip!
PLEASE NOTE: This blog is written as advice from a fellow traveller to give you a bit of knowledge about Malaria. You should always visit a doctor or travel clinic to get the most current professional advice before traveling to Africa.