Malaria is known to be a very serious and life-threatening disease that affects many UK travellers abroad, but the chances of contracting it can be substantially reduced by taking a number of measures.
As a general rule, the "ABCD" of malaria prevention is as follows:
Before you travel, consult a healthcare professional to understand whether your destination is a high risk area and what medication is advisable.
To view a map of the risk areas for malaria please click here. (External Site, opens in a new window: CDC Malaria Map)
Cover your body with long clothes to reduce exposed areas
Use mosquito nets (impregnated with an insecticide) when sleeping, especially if outside
Use an effective insect repellent (usually a DEET based product for high risk areas) on exposed areas of skin and optionally on clothing
Note: Insect repellents alone are not a recommended measure for malaria prevention therefore chemoprophylaxis is an essential precaution!
Chemoprophylaxis - anti-malaria tablets
Specific anti-malaria drugs may be recommended by your healthcare professional, as different strains of the virus are present in various locations.
Diagnosis and treatment
Typical symptoms of malaria are flu and fever-like reactions that often take place, but not always, between 1 week and 4 weeks of contracting the disease. It is vital to be aware of the symptoms and to seek immediate medical attention if feeling unwell.
As with malaria, for other insect-borne diseases bite prevention is key and it is important to prepare for travel to a high risk area by checking with your healthcare professional before travel. Some of the diseases to be aware of are described briefly below
West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus is carried by mosquitoes, in Europe, the Middle East, western and central Asia, Africa and also North America. The virus is most commonly transmitted to birds, although humans do contract the disease also. Typical symptoms include headache, fever, aches & pains, with a small percentage of people infected developing the serious condition encephalitis.
Yellow fever is carried by mosquitoes, including specifically the Aedes aegypti species, in tropical areas of South America and Africa. Fever and nausea, as well as pain, are the most obvious symptoms and although they will normally pass after a few days, in some more severe cases jaundice can occur as a next stage.
Dengue fever is a tropical disease that is transmitted by the Aedes species of mosquito. The disease can be life threatening and the symptoms are typically a sudden onset of fever, as well as headaches and muscle/joint pain.
Lyme Disease is typically transmitted by ticks in areas ranging from USA to Europe to China. Symptoms include rash/skin irritation, headache and fever and muscle or joint pain, and can vary greatly in their intensity and duration of infection.
To read about some of these subjects in more detail, including official travel recommendations, you may wish to refer to the following websites.