Malaria

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease that is spread through mosquito bites, and occurs commonly in areas of Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Eastern Europe and the South Pacific. The disease does not currently have a vaccine, but it is preventable with medication.

Mosquitos carrying malaria feed on people, and spread the disease. Malaria is a parasitic infection caused by a single-celled parasite that multiplies in the red blood cells of human beings as well as in the intestines of mosquitos.

As this disease is quite serious, and can even cause severe illness or death, prevention is of the utmost importance when travelling to affected areas. Malaria currently causes up to 500,000 deaths worldwide, and affects millions of people.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Malaria?

Symptoms of Malaria usually occur within 7-30 days after being bitten, but can in rare cases take as long as a full year to develop. Symptoms include high fevers, shaking, chills, muscle aches and other flu-like symptoms, which can last for a long time if left untreated. Certain severe instances of the disease cause symptoms such as: anemia caused by the destruction of infected blood cells, extreme tiredness, delirium, unconsciousness, convulsions, kidney failure, pulmonary edema and even coma.

With treatment the disease can be treated in 3-7 days, with full removal of the parasite.

Where am I Most at Risk?

Malaria occurs throughout the world, and is most common in Africa, Central and South America, parts of the Caribbean, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the South Pacific. People travelling to affected regions are especially at risk if spending time outdoors, sleeping outside, backpackers and adventure travellers, as well as relief travellers. Every year a certain number of people coming back from affected areas are treated within the USA and Canada.

What Can I do to Prevent Contraction of Malaria?

While there is no vaccine against Malaria at the moment, you can prevent contracting the disease by taking anti-malaria medication and preventing mosquito bites during your travel. Anti-Malaria mediation is commonly prescribed for travellers during and after a person’s trip. While these medications are not entirely foolproof, and the parasite that causes malaria has been increasingly more resistant to various medications, they are still the most effective means of preventing Malaria. To prevent mosquito bites the following is recommended: Using mosquito repellant, covering exposed skin with long sleeves, pants and hats, avoiding sleeping outdoors, sleeping in screened or air conditioned rooms, using a bed net if sleeping exposed to the outdoors, using permethrin-treated clothing and gear, avoiding spending prolonged periods of time outdoors.

What Should I do If I Suspect I May Have Malaria?

We suggest you take immediate medical action, to avoid any unnecessary complications. If you suspect that you or another member of your group have contracted malaria, report to the nearest hospital as soon as possible for the appropriate treatment.

 


References:

Canadian Public Health Services (2017). Malaria information. Retrieved from: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/malaria.html

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (2017). Malaria information. Retrieved from: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/malaria

World Health Organization (2017). Malaria information. Retrieved from:

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs094/en/

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