Malaria - The Facts

Holiday Tips - Malaria - The Facts

Your health centre will be able to recommend the correct medication which will take into consideration the type of trip you will be taking and whether you are pregnant, have epilepsy, breast feeding and any other factors.

The facts about malaria and the mosquitos are fascinating. If designed to cause the most havoc amongst all the parasites in the world with the least effort on its part was the intention, then it has succeeded many times over. There are around 300 million victims of malaria each year and as many as 1.5 million will die from its effects. Malaria is now confined to mostly Asia, Latin America, in fact 80% of cases are caused in Africa.

Outside Africa 75% of all recorded cases were concentrated in nine other countries: Afghanistan - Brazil - Cambodia - China - India - Indonesia - Sri Lanka - Thailand - Vietnam; you can use our travel immunisations guide to check what you may need before traveling.

Almost 800,000 children under the age of five suffering and dying from malaria annually.

The risk to the people of these countries is heightened by the lack of adequate healthcare and poor social conditions made worse by the resistance to the more common drugs used to kill the parasite that causes malaria.

Some types of malaria are more widespread than others and there are four types of the disease spread from one person to another by the female mosquito. Males feed on plant juices and so do not transmit malaria to humans.

The anapheline mosquito is one of over 380 species and one of only 60 that are able to transmit the protozoan parasite that causes malaria. Each species has its own water breeding grounds and follow patterns of feeding and resting. The parasite is passed through the saliva of the infected mosquito every time it feeds on its victim. The victim's blood becomes the carrier of the disease where it travels in the liver and multiplies.

The parasite revolves around a cycle of 9-16 day return, whereby it returns to the blood and penetrates the victim's red blood cells and continues to multiply further breaking down the cells causing anaemia and fever. Some forms of malaria can obstruct the vessels in the brain or other vital organs and cause death.

Whilst most of us westerners are fortunate to live in malaria free countries, we are still responsible for taking adequate protection when traveling to the countries where malaria is currently endemic.

  • By simply wearing the correct clothing you can drastically reduce the chances of being bitten. Wearing long sleeves and covering as much of your body by tucking trouser legs into socks will help. A baseball cap with neck flap helps as will wearing lighter shade clothing, due to mosquitoes being attracted to darker colours.
  • Do not stand near stagnant water at any time, especially after it has rained. If you are planning on staying with your family for any length of time in malaria risk areas you should make sure that you do not encourage mosquitoes by keeping any paddling pools filled with only fresh water. Check your guttering for any blockages that can attract mosquitoes.
  • Use yellow bug lights in any outdoor areas.

Hydrocortisone cream, an ice pack or calamine lotion can be used ease the discomfort of an itchy bite.

If a mosquito bite results in a fever, body aches, nausea, severe headache, vomiting, a rash, lethargy, swollen glands, confusion or sensitivity to light — you need to seek medical advice.