Nothing spoils a holiday in the sun more than getting ill, but some tropical diseases can even follow you back home. While a bit of Delhi Belly is unlikely to cause you lasting harm, malaria can spring up several months after your trip and cause life threatening complications, including blocking the blood cells that supply the brain.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, with a simple understanding of how malaria is caused and the ways to prevent it, you can significantly reduce your chance of infection.
Malaria is present in over 100 countries across the world, but as it’s an airborne disease carried by mosquitoes the areas affected are constantly changing. Therefore, the best way to check if the area you’re travelling to is at risk is to consult the NHS Fit for Travel site before you go.
Many of the symptoms of malaria can start off similar to flu and although the symptoms generally appear within one to two weeks of the bite, the disease can lie dormant for several months. Therefore, it’s important to bear these symptoms in mind if you fall ill in the year after your trip.
- Aching Muscles
- Vomiting and Diarrhoea
- Sweating and Shivering
The main form of prevention comes in the form of anti-malarial tablets and it’s essential to stock up on these in advance of your trip. By speaking to a doctor you can determine the right form of medication for the length of your stay and the duration you’ll need to take it for. The important thing to remember with antimalarials is that you can’t wait to arrive at your destination before taking them, instead many need to be taken for several days before they become effective and you’ll also need to continue taking them after your trip. Always read the instructions carefully for your particular type. You’ll need to get your antimalarials on a private prescription as they’re not usually covered by the NHS and this can either be done online or at your local surgery.
But alongside medication you can also practice several other preventative measures to reduce the risk of being bitten in the first place. It’s advisable to wear long sleeves and trousers and spray any visible areas with a strong mosquito repellent. You can even purchase clothes that have mosquito repellent built into the material. Mosquitoes are also most active at dawn and dusk, so stay covered up during these periods and avoid straying close to stagnant water.
If you think you may have contracted malaria it’s important to visit the nearest surgery or hospital as soon as possible so that you can have a blood sample taken to check for the parasite. If you’re in the UK when the disease develops you will typically receive the results the same day and treatment will be started immediately.
Along with arming yourself with enough malaria tablets, it’s also important to ensure that all of your vaccinations are up to date. Book yourself an appointment with your doctor well in advance of your trip and then you’ll be ready to take on the world!