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How to protect yourself from malaria when traveling:
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease that results in severe flu-like symptoms – it can be lethal if not treated properly and promptly. The disease is actually a parasite, which is passed onto humans through the saliva of the mosquito when it bites in order to suck its victim’s blood. The parasites begin their life cycle inside the new host, which can take anything from a few days to two weeks. As the parasites grow and proliferate, the host becomes more and more ill. People can recover from malaria without treatment, but the disease can recur, and there is a high risk of severe complications and even death. Here is how you can avoid contracting malaria while you are traveling.
Protecting yourself from malaria can be reduced to four simple steps:
- Awareness of malaria, its risks, and prevention methods.
- Take action to prevent being bitten.
- Take antimalarial medication.
- Ensure you receive diagnosis and treatment fast if you suspect you have malaria.
Take Anti-malarial Medications
Consult your health professional about the best malarial prophylaxis for the region in which you will be traveling. You will be given a course of tablets to take before you travel, while you are in the area and for a week or two after your return. It is important that you keep taking the tablets even after your return home. The tablets suppress the life cycle of the parasites until they have safely passed through your system: not taking the last one or two tablets will simply delay the onset of the disease
Always use mosquito nets when they are available – perhaps even consider buying one to carry with you while traveling if you are not certain that they will be available at your accommodation. Mosquito nets are useful in that they not only help to prevent malaria, they also keep moths, bugs and other flying insects from disturbing your sleep. These can easily be bought for very reasonable prices online at places like ebay.com.
Invest in a good quality insect repellent and ensure that it is effective on your skin. Again, these can be bought over the counter at high-street stores such as boots. A repellent that works for someone else might not work as well for you, so do try two or three before you select the best one. Do bear in mind though, some people secrete pheromones that mosquitos and other biting insect find irresistible and no amount of repellent can keep them away! If you are one of these particularly delicious people, you may want to consider wearing long sleeves and trousers and being extra vigilant with your anti-malarial treatment.
Cover up at night!
The mosquitoes which pass on Malaria fly at night which is why evenings are the most likely time you will catch malaria. Therefore, this is when you must be extra vigilant. One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is reducing the amount of skin available to the mosquito, and one of the easiest ways to do this is by covering up. If it is very humid, then material like linen is a good idea as it is very light and breathable.
Take Anti-malarial Medications
Consult your health professional about the best malarial prophylaxis for the region in which you will be traveling. You will be given a course of tablets to take before you travel, while you are in the area and for a week or two after your return. It is important that you keep taking the tablets even after your return home. The tablets suppress the life cycle of the parasites until they have safely passed through your system: not taking the last one or two tablets will simply delay the onset of the disease.
Although the best method of protection is prevention, sometimes you get caught out. Therefore, do invest in travel insurance. If you do get malaria, the last thing you will want to worry about is getting treated and being made to pay a fortune for a hospital bed while you recover. Make sure you get a policy tailored to your needs, so you don’t get caught out. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, you will need to take out medical travel insurance to prevent these going against you if you make a claim. medicaltravelinsurance.co.uk has more information on what this type of cover includes. Having malaria can be one of the worst experiences you will ever have, from every joint in your body aching, to shuddering with cold one minute only to being roasting hot the next, to barely being able to think coherently for the duration of the illness – make sure that you take every possible step to avoid falling ill, and insure yourself so you will be looked after properly should these measures fail.