If you are travelling abroad to a more exotic location this summer, you’ll want to know whether malaria is a risk and understand what to do about it.
Malaria is a serious and potentially fatal disease. It only takes one bite for a person to become infected, so it is important to be prepared.
It is not found in the UK, but Brits can become infected when travelling. In 2014, 1,586 travellers were diagnosed after returning to the UK.
Malaria Risk Areas
Malaria is found mainly in tropical regions of the world, including parts of:
- Africa and Asia
- Central and South America
- Haiti and the Dominican Republic
- Middle East
- Pacific islands
The countries with teh most reported cases according to WHO data (2014) were:
- DCR (Democratic Republic of the Congo) – nearly 10 million cases
- Nigeria – 7.8 million
- Mozambique – 7.1 million
- Burkina Faso – 5.4 million
- Burundi – 4.6 million
If you want advice on the malaria risk for a particular country, see Fit for Travel website.
If you are travelling to a country where malaria is an identified risk, protection involves physical and chemical prevention as well as medication.
- Physical Prevention: Cover arms and legs where possible, especially at dusk. Sleep under a mosquito net.
- Chemical Prevention: Wear a good insect repellent. Also spray the mosquito net before sleep.
- Medication: If you need to take malaria tablets, ensure you have the right prescription and correct dose. Follow the instructions precisely – starting before travel and always finishing the course
After travel, patients are advised to be aware of flu-like symptoms and seek medical attention. Symptoms of malaria are quite similar to those of flu or tummy bugs. They usually appear 1-3 weeks after infection but could arise up to a year later. Symptoms include:
It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of malaria if you’re travelling to areas where there’s a high risk of the disease. Symptoms include:
- high temperature
- muscle pain
Symptoms usually appear between 7 and 18 days after becoming infected, but in some cases the symptoms may not appear for up to a year, or occasionally even longer.
Malaria treatment with medication is very effective providing the disease is diagnosed early before complications arise. However, it can be difficult and ultimately fatal if not treated promptly. That’s why it is important to avoid contracting the disease as much as possible, to be alert for any symptoms after travel and to seek advice in case of any concern.
Malaria Global Trends
The World Malaria Report, published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014, estimated that there were 198 million cases of malaria worldwide and 584,000 deaths in 2013.
The good news is that cases of malaria worldwide actually fell by 18% between 2000-2015 according to World Health Organisation data.
However, this progress does seem to have stalled and some areas are seeing a resurgence of cases as mosquitoes become increasingly resistant to insecticide.
Malaria still accounts for 450k deaths every year and a child every 2 minutes. It has a devastating impact on the economy too. Regions that have decreased malaria see 5x economic growth compared to those where malaria is endemic.
If you’re planning to travel abroad, check whether you need any vaccination against certain diseases found in other parts of the world.
Travel Clinic, London
The Smart Clinics based in Knightsbridge/Brompton and Wandsworth offers an extensive range of services for travellers, including immunisations for Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, Meningococcal, Polio, Rabies, Tetanus, Tick-Borne Encephalitis, Typhoid and Yellow Fever as well as antimalarial tablets.
Their friendly doctors are also happy to advise on issues such as sun exposure, food and water and provide specific advice for patients who have high blood pressure, diabetes or other diagnosed conditions requiring ongoing care and/or medication.
Based on the latest guidelines, up to date advice can be given as to which immunisations and preparations are required, as well as whether the area patients are visiting is at risk of malaria.
Evening and weekend appointments are available and longer appointments where required to ensure a high standard of patient care.
Travel Immunisation Information by Country
For further information, the following websites are very useful for researching the travel health advice relevant to the country you are visiting:
- Gov.uk foreign travel advice by country, including information on whether the EHIC card provides any cover
- NHS Choices, listing Non European Economic Area (EEA) countries that have reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK
- fitfortravel.nhs.uk, listing advice for destinations
About The Smart Clinics
The Smart Clinics is a private healthcare company offering a membership-based alternative to NHS care for individuals and families which includes unlimited GP appointments. Their services are also available on a ‘pay as you go’ basis under the Registered Member option.
For more information contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7052 0070.