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·MALARIA (swamp fever, malaria)
Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a parasite (called Plasmodium) transmitted by bite of Anopheles mosquito. There are four different types of which Malaria falciparum is most dangerous and most widespread. The incubation period – time between an infecting bite and appearance of disease – varies from ten days to four weeks (rarely several months).
The symptoms include attacks of fever, but can initially be quite similar to influenza. If adequate treatment is not started in time, an attack may sometimes result in death within a few days.
. Where does malaria occur?
Malaria only occurs in those areas in which Anopheles mosquitoes are present : in tropics and in a large number of subtropical areas. From a height of 1.500 to 2.500 m onwards, depending on temperature and climate, Anopheles mosquitoes are either rare or non-existent.
In most big cities there is little or no risk at all of infection, except in Africa where a real risk exists.
Risk also exists in suburbs of big cities in Asia (e.g. in India). In a number of areas risk varies according to season.
. How can malaria be prevented?
It is very important for travel health to avoid mosquito bites : Anopheles mosquito only bites between dusk and dawn, is rather small and hardly makes any noise. - In evening wear light-coloured clothing which covers your arms and legs as much as possible. Apply repellent cream with a DEET basis (20 to 50%, for children and pregnant women preferably 20 to 30%) to uncovered parts of your body. Repeat this every four to six hours (it will not protect you all night). Non containing DEET repellents were less examined; Autan-Active. and Mosegor. are however excellent safe products. - Sleep in rooms that leave no access to mosquitoes, (mosquito nets on sills, electrically-warmed anti-mosquito plates, air-conditioning) or sleep under a mosquito net impregnated with permethrine or deltamethrine hung over bed with edges tucked under mattress.
If these measures are carried out correctly, risk of malaria will be reduced by 80 to 90% and travel health is maintained
.The intake of pills as prevention
There is no drug efficient enough to prevent malaria 100%, which means that quite often a combination of measures is preferable. Also drugs used have changed over years. Moreover, advantages and disadvantages of drugs should be considered against risk of malaria infection. These risks are dependent on visited country, and on region, season, duration of your stay and kind of trip.
Some people might be troubled by side effects while taking antimalarial drugs. These are usually mild and are not always a reason to stop taking pills. Sometimes it may be necessary to change to another type of medication due to intestinal problems, allergic reactions or other intolerance symptoms.
Therefore it is doctor who can best decide for each individual which drug to use. This explains why individuals from same group may end up taking different drugs.
Finally, as no drug is 100% effective in preventing malaria, it is important that if an attack of fever occurs in first three months after your return from tropics, a malaria infection should be considered as a possibility despite correct use of drug prescribed.
However, it is reassuring to know that malaria, provided it is recognised in time, is easy to treat without any danger of recurrent attacks. The belief that "once malaria always malaria" is totally untrue.
You can find even more travel health tips in next pages:
DISEASES FOR WHICH VACCINATIONS ARE AVAILABLE
MORE TRAVEL HEALTH TIPS
CAUTION: The information provided here should not be used during any medical emergency or for diagnosis or for treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.
Eddy De Vos is the owner of http://www.spain-holidays-advisor.com/, a website about travel and Spain. It contains usefull tips for your next trip, be it to Spain or anywhere else in the world. Of course if you are planning a trip to Spain there is no better place to start than Spain Holidays