Malaria is a life-threatening disease that is transmitted through mosquito bites, mainly bites from mosquitos in the genus anopheles. An infected anopheles mosquito carries the plasmodium parasite, and when this mosquito bites someone, it releases the parasite into their bloodstream.
Today, more than 87 countries throughout the world, as per the WHO, are prone to malaria. These are typically found in the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Therefore, if you are an international traveler, you are at risk of contracting malaria if you visit any of these 87 countries.
Handy Tips For Travelers Going To Malaria Prone Countries
Malaria, if not treated quickly, can be a deadly disease; therefore, preventing it in the first place is vital when traveling abroad. Here are some of the measures/tips to consider following when thinking of visiting malaria-prone regions.
1. Planning Ahead to Prevent It
The risk of catching malaria will vary widely depending on how long you are planning to travel. Also, the countries you are visiting should be factored in, and finally the means of transport you will be using most often in the country you are visiting. Malaria risk changes seasonally in some countries, particularly those furthest from the equator. Thus, consider checking out different malaria map applications to help you assess the rate of risk for malaria in the country you are planning to visit. This will provide you with updated information on the dangers of malaria as well as the recommended medication for any malaria-prone region you may travel to.
2. Choose the Right Drugs for Preventing Malaria
There are various anti-malarial medications currently available from pharmacies which act to prevent malaria transmission while traveling. Always check with your travel health specialist to know which one is the best for you. To start with, not all of them can be used in all areas as some malarial parasites may be resistant to some drugs. Also, some drugs may interfere with or aggravate underlying health issues. Further, children and expectant mothers may require special consideration when choosing malaria medication – not just any malaria tablet is right for everyone.
In the same breath, it is always advisable to visit your doctor before you leave for your trip. Seeing a healthcare professional, preferably at least two months before embarking on your journey, will allow you to discuss the available malaria medications, vaccinations and any other travel plans that may have an impact on your overall health if not addressed. Therefore, bring with you a detailed travel schedule and ensure you discuss with your doctor each family member’s medical history and health matters.
3. Diagnosis for malaria
Timely diagnosis and treatment of malaria is vital. Whether or not you take malaria medications or use insect repellents, one can still contract the disease. Ensure you get tested seven days after having been bitten.
4. Preventing mosquito bites
Most travelers tend to overlook malaria preventive measures. One contracts malaria as a result of mosquito bites; hence, if they do not bite you, you won’t contract the disease. Malaria carrying mosquitoes tend to bite between dawn and dusk, and thus if you are out during this time, ensure you are in loose long-sleeved clothes that cover most of your body. Before you travel, make your clothing mosquito and tick repellent using a Permethrin spray or wash. The repellent will last for up to 6 washings.
5. Mind What You Carry With You
Buy mosquito nets, in case your sleeping area lacks window screens or air conditioning. Finally, ensure you hang the mosquito net from the ceiling and then tack it properly under the mattress so that they don’t get in and bite you while sleeping.