Malaria is at large in over 100 countries of the world, and one – two million people die of malaria every year.
In the last few years the UK saw a 30% rise in travellers infected with malaria, mostly contracted in West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana 40% of total) and India (11%).
Aedes Albopictus disease found, though not necessarily rampant: SE Asia (even Singapore! ), India, West Africa, Central America, Brazil, USA East Coast, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, South France.
Malaria Treatments and Prophylactics (Preventative Medicines)
Some preventatives can be ineffective, while others can instigate health problems – making you nauseous or turning you into quivering, psychotic jelly. Many experienced travellers only use chemicals in high risk areas, but the choice is yours. One thing that won’t turn you into psychotic jelly is travel insurance, protection without the shakes!
Very low risk e. g. Egypt (except Faiyum Oasis area), Bali, use no chemicals.
Low risk e. g. Central America, use chloroquine (trade name Nivaquine, Alocor) once weekly.
High risk e. g. some parts of Asia, Oceania, use chloroquine and proguanil (Paludrine), or mefloquine (Lariam) or malarone.
Very high risk e. g. sub-Saharan Africa, parts of the Caribbean, the north half of Latin America, and Far East (esp. Thai/Cambodia and Thai/Myanmar borders, Papua New Guinea), use:
– Malarone if available, or perhaps Mefloquine (Larium).
In sub-Saharan Africa chloroquine and proguanil is rated as 50%-70% effective, while mefloquine (Lariam) is 90% effective against malaria but can have unpleasant side-effects such as : nausea, panic attacks, fits, manic depression and a tendency to bark at the postman.
A study (reported in The Times 20/9/00) estimated that 1 in 140 Lariam users suffered ‘socially disabling neuropsychiatric side-effects. ‘
– Malarone (atovaquene), as effective as Larium (i. e. nearly 100%) but no psychological side-effects, though 14% of trial users reported some headaches and dizziness (Sept. /00).
Also you only need to take it for only 7 days after leaving a malaria zone, as opposed to 28 days for Lariam.
In UK it’s available on prescription at BA travel clinics when there is a specific health need.
– Qinghaosu, Chinese wormwood, a naturally produced herb has been used by the Chinese since mid-70s, and is now used in combination with other drugs, especially mefloquine – also known as Artemisinin – where the malaria parasite is particularly drug resistant.
Very effective, but not widely available.
– Doxycycline, an antibiotic (for treatment of chest and other infections), is widely used as a malaria treatment.
It’s especially popular in the Far East but becoming less effective as local buzzers develop resistance e. g. Thailand and Laos. However it makes the skin sensitive to sunshine so it’s not good for beach holidays.
It needs to be taken with plenty of water to prevent it sticking in the throat, and you should consume probiotics of some sort to restore healthy bacteria to your system – yoghurt or some other dairy products for example.
Take care that health problems such as fever or flu-like illness developing up to 1 year after travel is not put down to flu.
Clearly inform your doctor of the possibility of malaria.
Symptoms of Malaria: From infection to symptoms generally takes 1- 4 weeks, but can take up to one year.
Initial symptoms in adults for both malaria and West Nile virus: flu-like illness, weakness, dizziness, headache, fever, muscular pains, vomiting, diarrhoea.
Initial symptoms in children: any of the above plus convulsions, coughing and rapid shallow breathing.
Severe symptoms: muscle spasms (including face), jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), kidney failure, rapid shallow breathing, convulsions, coma, death.
n. b. Pregnant women are at increased health risk of contracting severe malaria, which can also damage the foetus.