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How you can prevent malaria while travelling

malariamalaria
malariamalaria

How you can prevent malaria while travelling

When travelling to other countries, you run the risk of contracting diseases such as malaria. It can be a devastating illness, but there are methods you can use to prevent contracting malaria while you travel, which are outlined below.

 

Check if malaria is present at your destination

Before you book your tickets to your destination, be sure to check whether or not malaria is present there. You can look online at a map showing where malaria is found or ask your travel agent or tour planner if there is a risk of you encountering malaria at your destination. You could also look up any questions you may have regarding your destination, such as “Why is malaria common in Africa?

If the area that you are traveling to is considered a malaria area, be sure to book an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic before leaving to talk about antimalarial medication. There are several different types of medication available, all of which come in pill form and are preventative rather than vaccines. Try to see your doctor as far in advance as possible as some clinics may not keep stock of these medications and may have to order them for you.

 

Choose the right medication

There are different types of malaria medication on the market, including those outlined below.

  • Malarone: Malarone only needs to be taken one day before entering a malaria area, and for one week after you return home. It has very few side-effects and is available in paediatric form for children. However, it is unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

 

  • Chloroquine: Chloroquine is only taken weekly and is safe for use when pregnant. It is only taken once weekly, for several weeks before and after your trip. It has been known to exacerbate existing medical conditions.

 

  • Doxycycline: Doxycycline only needs to be taken one to two days before your trip and for four weeks after your trip. It is unsuitable for children and pregnant women and causes side-effects such as photosensitivity, which can cause very bad sunburn.

 

  • Mefloquine: Mefloquine must be taken two weeks prior to and four weeks after travel and is safe for pregnant women to use. Some of the side effects of this medication include bad dreams and it has been deemed unsafe for use by those with seizure disorders or psychiatric conditions.

 

You will have to decide on what medication is best for you before leaving for your trip and will have to follow the instructions exactly as they have been prescribed.

 

Pack mosquito deterrents

Avoiding mosquito bites can be done by packing high quality insect repellents, such as 30% DEET or 20% Picardin creams, sprays or gels. An important tip to remember is that mosquitoes tend to be more active during dusk and dawn, so be sure to put the repellents on during these hours, as well as during the day.

You can turn your clothing into an extra layer of repellent by soaking them in specialised liquids that contain chemicals such as DEET (N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide). It is important to do so before you travel, as you may not be able to do so in a hotel. You can treat a mosquito net with this same liquid and pack it with you to hang over your bed at night. Be sure, however, to research whether DEET creams are usable on sensitive skin, such as that of children or fair-skinned people.  

 

Know the symptoms of malaria

It is vital to know the exact symptoms of malaria before you travel.  If you have been bitten by the Anopheles female mosquito, you may experience symptoms  including feeling ill with a flu-like feeling, headaches, muscle pain and chills.

Other symptoms include high fever, severe headaches, drowsiness, delirium and confusion. The incubation period for malaria can range from two weeks to 35 days. If you feel any of these symptoms, you need to see a doctor immediately. Be sure to alert them to the fact that you have been exposed to malaria on your travels.

 

Being prepared is the first step to a great trip

Malaria is a serious disease but do not let it deter you from exploring some of the most beautiful places in the world. If you are prepared ahead of time, you can enjoy your trip and relax with the knowledge that you have taken preventative measures. Be sure to do as much research as possible about the area you will be travelling to and ask your travel doctor about the best malaria medication for your needs. Take insect and mosquito repellent along with you and pack a mosquito net in case your hotel does not have one.

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