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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

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

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

Malaria spreading to new altitudes

mosquito higher altitudesAll-time high: malaria spreading to new altitudes

A new study has suggested that warmer temperatures are causing malaria to spread to higher altitudes.

Published by the journal Science, researchers have established that people living in the highlands of South America and Africa are at a significantly higher risk of the disease during hotter years.

They believe higher temperatures could result in potentially millions more cases of the mosquito-borne illness. Higher altitude regions have previously proven a sanctuary from malaria. Read in full

Daily Mail: The effect of vomiting and diarrhoea on medication

vomiting diarrhoea effect oral medicinesDr Steele, the Medical Director of the Dr Fox website, was quoted in an article in the Daily Mail published on 26th May 2014. The article, written by journalist Joani Walsh, was titled ‘On medication? A minor tummy upset can put you in peril: From heart pills to anti-stroke drugs, a bout of sickness may wipe out all your protection‘.

The article deals with the risks of vomiting whilst taking long-term medication and focused on the case of a Nurse, Victoria Ord, who contracted Malaria on a visit to Gambia. Vomiting of her malaria tablets left Victoria vulnerable to a serious malaria infection.

The Daily Mail article quotes Dr Steele as saying:

People think that once a pill is swallowed, the effect is immediate. Vomiting or diarrhoea can effectively mean a missed dose and it can be critical – enough to throw some patients on medication for heart problems into heart failure.

Whether missing one or more tablets because of vomiting will lead to serious health problems depends on which tablets and why they are being taken. People taking long term medication who plan to travel for prolonged periods in remote areas should talk to their doctors before they leave. Read in full

Malaria tablets for the World Cup in Brazil

brazil malaria risk

England’s first match in the World Cup in Brazil is in Manaus, where malaria tablets are needed. Malaria is a serious, potentially fatal condition, and precautions must to be taken.

FIFA recommends supporters seek specialist advice 6-8 weeks prior to travel.

There is a significant risk of Malaria in the northern half of Brazil. Malaria tablets should be taken by people visiting areas marked dark pink/red on the map shown (click map for larger image). The map is taken from the NHS travel health website. Detailed information about the risks of catching malaria in particular areas of Brazil and with particular types of travel activity are provided below.

The recommended malaria tablets for Brazil, including Manaus, are Malarone (atovaquone/proguanil), or Doxycycline or Lariam (Mefloquine). No one type of malaria tablet works better than another. You only need to take one type of recommended tablet. The choice between malaria tablet depends on which best suits you. Information about choosing between one malaria tablet and another and about buying online can be found at the malaria page of the Dr Fox web site. Dr Fox also advises how to take malaria tablets and about possible side effects of tablets. Read in full

The History of Malaria

history of malariaMalaria is a disease that has been around for more than 4,000 years and is still causing major concern throughout the world. As a longstanding thorn in humanity’s side, it has led to a cornucopia of attempted discoveries, remedies and cures.

What is malaria?

Derived from the Italian for ‘bad air’, malaria is one of the most prevalent and dangerous diseases on the planet that has affected – and killed – hundreds of thousands of people throughout history. Read in full