Malaria: What Travellers Should Know

Saturday, 1/10/2016

Malaria is a disease that has affected many people. This disease is generally found in the Tropical and Subtropical regions of the world, mainly Sub–Saharan Africa, Latin America, South America, South Africa, etc. Malaria is a cause of worry for the travellers. Usually, people travelling from USA and UK generally fear this disease and take several precautionary measures to prevent themselves from getting infected with this disease.
Every year, there are innumerable travellers who travel to areas where Malaria is endemic. It is very important to prevent the travellers from getting affected by this disease. To ensure yourself a safe trip, it is crucial to follow these points:

1. Check if the country you’re visiting is infected with Malaria
Before going for the tour, get yourself the complete details of the itinerary and the possible places that you might be visiting during the tour.
● Immediately after getting the itinerary, do a detailed check on each and every place of visit regarding the transmission of Malaria.
● In case, Malaria is a problem in that country, check about the protozoan species that causes this disease there. Get information about the species drug resistance and also the particular medications that are prescribed to battle that species as a precautionary measure.
● Also, check the severity of Malaria cases in that area. The people who are usually affected and the symptoms and complications that they suffer from.

2. Get a complete risk assessment test done on yourself
● To prevent Malaria, it is very important to ensure that the person at risk should use the precautionary measures properly.
● While taking a risk assessment on Malaria, some questions are to be kept in mind.
● First of all, where is the traveller going? If they are travelling somewhere in Africa, the precautions would have to be more compared to another place where Malaria is spread to a less extent.
● Second, what time of the year are you travelling? The spread of Malaria decreases or increases according to the climatic conditions in some cases.
● It is also very important to note who the traveller is. In the case of a pregnant woman or a child, the risks are more.

3. After the assessment, choose the best precautionary measure for you.
● According to the assessment, the traveller should choose the preventive measures that would be most appropriate for them.
● This generally includes using mosquito repellents to prevent mosquito bites and using bed nets sprayed with insecticides while sleeping.
● This also includes the consumption the medicines to prevent Malaria.
● To be more precautionary, wear appropriate clothes to prevent yourself from being bitten.
● Choosing the right anti-Malarial drug for this disease might be a tedious task. However, make sure that before choosing the medication you consider the patient’s medical conditions and the side effects that might be caused by that particular medication.
● Usually, the drugs for Malaria are – Chloroquine, Doxycycline, Primaquine, Proguanil and Mefloquine.

4. Awareness about the symptoms of Malaria:
● It is very important to be aware about the symptoms of this disease in order to prevent yourself from getting infected with Malaria.
● The symptoms of Malaria may vary from moderate to severe.
● The common symptoms of this disease are chills (which might be moderate or severe), high fever, convulsions, nausea, vomiting, pain in the muscles, headaches, bloody stools, diarrhoea, anaemia, sweating, etc.

Recommendations by World Health Organisation (WHO)
The World Health Organisation has closely studied the spread of Malaria amongst travellers. There are certain recommendations given by WHO:
● First, they recommend the pregnant women to avoid travelling to a Malaria-prone district. It’s because the risk factor in pregnant women is much more than non-pregnant women. In such cases, the pregnant women may suffer a miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and other complications, some of which can even lead to the death of the mother.
● Second, they also recommend precautionary measures. Prevention of Malaria during afternoon and evening is important. Wearing protective clothes, using bed nets and applying mosquito repellent creams are other precautions recommended by WHO.