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Preventing Malaria – five simple steps for travellers

photo of malarial mosquitoAs we’ve seen in recent news, travelling to a country where disease-carrying mosquitos thrive can have lasting repercussions. The Aedes mosquito is responsible for the transmission of viruses like Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika. Malaria, on the other hand, is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito, and it isn’t a virus.

Malaria is a caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is picked up from infected people by female mosquitos. When the mosquito bites again, it transmits the parasite, now mixed with the mosquito’s saliva, to the blood of its victim.

There are four types of human malaria, of which the deadliest is Falciparum malaria, which is responsible for close to one million deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa every year.

Malaria symptoms usually come on one to two weeks after being bitten, and are flu-like in nature. They include fever, chills, vomiting and headaches. If the person does not receive proper treatment the parasite can be deadly, killing the host by destroying red blood cells and obstructing the arteries. Read in full

Travelling and the Zika virus

zika virus travel adviceZika, or ZIKV, has dominated the international news of late, with dramatic photos of people with conjunctivitis, skin rashes and, more alarmingly still, babies with misshapen heads. The virus, once believed to cause only minor illness, has now been closely linked with the birth defects microcephaly and anencephaly and the neurological condition Guillain Barré syndrome.

Zika is currently being studied by research teams around the world, and new evidence continues to emerge regarding its effects. For that reason, if you are concerned about the virus it is important to continue consulting the latest information for any recent developments. Updated travel guidelines can be found here. Read in full

How to get a good night’s sleep

sleep-wellAre you one of the many people who fall asleep easily, only to wake up a few hours later and struggle to get back to sleep again? According to a 2013 report by, almost half of Brits are kept awake by stress or worry at night. Perhaps you have trouble falling asleep in the first place, or find yourself waking throughout the night. Millions of people suffer from some form of insomnia, but sleep can be improved by practicing better sleeping habits and pinpointing what it is that keeps you up at night.

Addressing your so-called ‘sleep hygiene’ (a term used by the NHS) can help you determine what you can do differently to get more sleep, before turning to sleeping pills or tonics. Read in full

Posted on in Jet lag

Getting rid of the runs: treating travellers’ diarrhoea

travellers diarrhoea preventionDiarrhoea is commonly caused by a bowel infection by a virus, bacteria or parasite. Increased exposure to gastroenteritis-causing factors is why diarrhoea is so common amongst travellers; in fact up to five million Brits suffer from it every year.

It normally begins during the first week after arriving in a new place; trying new foods exposes us to new bacteria that our bodies are not used to. It also puts us at risk of dangerous bacteria such as salmonella and E. Coli, as well as parasites like Giardia and viruses like the norovirus. All of these are transmitted through hand to mouth contact, and eating or drinking contaminated food or water. Diarrhoea can also be caused by eating different foods with higher levels of spice or oil than our normal diet.

If all this has put you off eating or drinking anything in a new country (or even travelling at all!), try to keep in mind that there are things you can do to decrease the severity and length of a diarrhoea episode abroad. Read in full

Simple ways to prevent jet lag

prevent jet lagFrequent travelers are all too familiar with the feeling of jet lag; the extreme fatigue, insomnia at night, digestion problems and trouble concentrating on simple tasks. Whether you are a first time flyer, or about to embark on your first long haul flight, jet lag and its effects on your body can come as a bit of a shock.

With the introduction of cheaper flights and the newly increased popularity of travelling to areas of Eastern Asia, such as Thailand, more and more Brits are embarking on long distance holidays.

Whilst there is no way to fully prevent the effects of jet lag, there are many simple approaches to long distance travelling which can help relieve the symptoms and make your journey more pleasant. Read in full

New VIP jab can protect against malaria

history of malariaThe ongoing battle against malaria has hit a promising new turn after researchers have found a promising new approach to fighting the disease.

Medical experts in Washington have discovered that the new approach – called Vectored Immunoprophylaxis (VIP) – triggered a creation of antibodies that prevented the spread of malaria in 70% of mice test subjects.

The mice were injected with a genetically altered virus designed to help rodents create an antibody specifically designed to combat the malaria parasite. This in turn produced a significant level of the anti-malaria antibody.

VIP has already displayed promising results in studies of the HIV virus but, until now, has not been tested for cases of malaria. Currently no licensed vaccine for malaria exists. Read in full

Flying high: 3 jet lag apps

jet lag appsAnyone who suffers from jet lag knows it’s not a pleasant thing to endure.

Caused by the disruption of the body’s circadian rhythms when we travel, jet lag is a condition that affects everyone differently.

For some people, it makes them disoriented, lethargic or irritated, and insomnia is often a symptom. But no matter how it manifests itself, one thing’s for certain – it can ruin an otherwise idyllic holiday or important business trip.

As with most things nowadays, there’s an app for everything, and jet lag is no exception.

There’s no cure for jet lag, but there are few tricks you can do to you get your body clock back on the straight and narrow. Read in full

Posted on in Jet lag

The long road of progress: why it’s taken 30 years to develop a malaria vaccine

malaria vaccineThe history books are awash with scientists who have dedicated their lives to a particular cause. From Copernicus to Edison and Pasteur, there’s never been a shortage of supremely gifted and focused individuals selflessly working towards the betterment of humankind.

Joe Cohen is one such pioneer, for he has spent half of his life working on the development of a vaccine for malaria.

The 70 year old originally started the project back in 1987 after he was asked by the then SmithKline & French to spearhead a malaria research unit. Read in full