Going on holiday can be jolly good fun and all, but you tend to find that the more exotic that a location is, the more problems you could face. We’re not talking about drug cartels, professional thieves and brain-melting alcoholic concoctions here, either — it’s more about what you can catch. Again, not like that, but local diseases — specifically malaria.
The problem with malaria is that it tends to rear its ugly head around fun, exciting places. In the Americas, it can be found from the mid-way point in Mexico, down through Central America and into northern parts of Brazil, as well as Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, among others. Pretty much all of sub-Saharan Africa is affected, with South Africa and the northernmost coast of the continent left free from the disease. Finally and with the outermost borders of the Middle East aside — India, Pakistan, all of south-east Asia (including southern China) and the extended islands have one form of malaria or another.
Still, you’re not going to let a few pesky mosquitoes put you off the holiday of a lifetime, are you? Of course you aren’t.
As such, you’ve got to plan your holiday properly and promote malaria protection up the ranks, as prevention is way better than the cure. While flights, accommodation, insurance, travel money and clothing tend to be at the top of your mind, you should instead get yourself down to the doctors or if your too busy check out the online section of your local pharmacy and ask their specialists about how to protect yourself with malaria tablets.
Just remember the facts before you decide to risk not seeing a specialist. The condition is now responsible for the deaths of one million people each year, making it one of the world’s biggest killers. Spread by night-biting mosquitoes, the disease takes just one bite to give an infection. Every year in the UK alone, 1,500 travellers come back with the condition, though good diagnoses mean that only six or so people die each year from it. That’s still six too many, though.
Malaria has symptoms similar to flu, and if you’ve had that (and not just a cold, as most people think is the worst thing they’ve had), you’ll know what to look out for. It creates high temperatures of 38°C or above, as well as cycles of chills and sweats. Add to this the further problems of muscle pain, headaches, coughing and diarrhoea, and you’re provided with a recipe for pain. Unlike flu, however, there’s also a slim chance you’ll become comatose and die. Not the best situation to be in, you’ll agree.
Anyway, aside from malaria tablets, it’s also worth checking if you need vaccinations for other things that may be floating about (quite literally, sometimes): hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, hepatitis A, meningococcal meningitis, rabies and typhoid. Best to travel prepared, wouldn’t you agree?