Whether you’re taking a holiday or going on a round-the-world trip, becoming ill is the last thing you’ll want when you’re far from home. To avoid expensive hospital bills and potentially life-threatening diseases, it’s important to do your research well in advance to find out what vaccinations and medicines you require.
Unfortunately, there is still a significant risk of contracting malaria in more than 100 countries around the world today. If you’re travelling to a high-risk area, you’ll need to take a number of precautions to prevent yourself from becoming infected with this potentially deadly disease.
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, so it is important to use insect repellent and mosquito nets, and to keep your arms and legs covered to avoid getting bitten. These days, travellers can also get malaria tablets such as malarone from chemists on the high street or via reputable web services such as LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor. Protection begins one to two days after beginning your course so it is vital that you start taking the medicine before you travel to ensure you’re protected when you arrive. You must also take these tablets every day until seven days after you leave a high-risk area. When taken in conjunction with other precautions, these medicines can help to prevent you from becoming infected. However, it is important to remember that anti-malarials do not completely negate the risk of contracting malaria. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of the disease to avoid delays in seeking medical help.
Symptoms of malaria usually appear between seven and 18 days after getting bitten by an infected mosquito. However, sometimes it can take a lot longer – up to a year in some cases.
There are a number of different types of malaria and symptoms do not always follow the same course.
Typically, however, people with malaria report symptoms such as a high temperature, headache and vomiting initially. They may also experience chills, sweating, aching muscles, diarrhoea, a stomach ache, a lack of appetite and energy, and feeling generally unwell. As it’s easy to mistake these kinds of symptoms for an attack of flu, all too often travellers do not seek help at this point. If you feel even mildly ill with flu-like symptoms while in a high-risk area or after visiting one, it is important to seek medical attention without delay.
With certain types of malaria, people can start to develop a high temperature that occurs in four to eight hour cycles. During these bouts, sufferers feel cold and shivery for about an hour and then become feverish and experience sweating and severe tiredness for two to six hours.
The most dangerous strains of malaria can cause serious and potentially fatal complications, such as organ failure, if action is not taken quickly.
However, all forms of malaria pose a serious threat to life so if you develop symptoms of the disease while you’re in a high-risk area or after you leave (even months later), you must see a doctor in order to rule out the possibility of malaria. A simple blood test can diagnose the disease and treatment can be started as soon as you get the results. If you suspect that you may have been exposed to malaria, don’t delay seeking treatment – it just may save your life.