Cheryl Cole is reportedly now on the mend after an unpleasant encounter with the highly infectious disease, malaria. The Girls Aloud singer and X Factor judge contracted the potentially fatal infection while on a trip to Tanzania, and became seriously ill as a result. Cheryl is one of hundreds of British tourists returning home each year with malaria.
How malaria is contracted
Malaria is a vector-borne disease, transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito. When an infected mosquito bites you, it passes the malaria parasite into your bloodstream. The parasite then makes its way to your liver, where it multiplies before heading back into your bloodstream and invading your red blood cells. Symptoms include fever, shivering, sweating, anaemia, aches and pains, vomiting and diarrhoea. Malaria can kill you.
Malaria is found in many parts of the world, and people should be aware of malaria ‘hotspots’ so they can take steps to protect themselves. Malaria is transmitted in areas of South America, Africa, and Asia. So what can travellers do if they want to avoid ending up in hospital with malaria like Cheryl Cole? Read in full
In the UK malarone is a prescription only medicine. This means Malarone tablets are not available without a prescription, except from some pharmacists using ‘patient group directions’ (a form of exception for the need for a prescription). Most pharmacists still require a prescription before Malarone can be supplied.
Doctors, or nurses and pharmacists with specialist travel medicine training, write the prescriptions. Usually there is a charge of between £10.00 to £25.00 for writing a prescription. The cost is set by the prescriber.
Update March 2013: Malarone is Glaxo’s brand name for a medicine called atovaquone/proguanil. In February 2013, following a challenge to Glaxo’s patent, non-branded ‘generic malarone’ – non-branded atovaquone/proguanil became available as a UK licensed medicine. Malarone and non-branded atovaquone/proguanil (generic malarone) are medically the same. Read in full
Side effects of malaria tablets & reasons to use particular drugs
No anti malaria tablet is 100% effective. Different malaria tablets are recommended for different parts of the world. No one recommended tablet is more effective in preventing malaria than another. The drugs recommended by the UK NHS can be found by links from the Dr Fox malaria page, where you can also buy malaria tablets.
Lists of side effects for each medicine are given in the manufacturer’s patient information leaflets – links below.
Every year hundreds of travellers from the UK catch malaria and tens of people die. The risks of travelling to a malaria area without taking the right anti-malaria tablet are difficult to overstate. Read in full