Careless Brits dying from Malaria
10th August 2012
Whilst we would like to think that we are well educated as regards the risks of contracting malaria when travelling, recent statistics show that many Brits are failing to take the necessary precautions. As a result of this there has been a steady increase since 2007 of Brits contracting malaria whilst abroad. According to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) the cases of British citizens contracting malaria has increased by over 33% from 2010 to 2011, and more worrying still is the amount of deaths caused by malaria which has nearly doubled. The reasons for this are many and varied, there has been a large increase in the amount of British people travelling to more exotic locations such as India and West Africa. Added to that is the fact that every year around 2000 Brits come back to the UK suffering from malaria due to not taking any malaria medications. The reason behind these worrying figures seems to be a lack of education regarding malaria and how dangerous, even how fatal it can be. Some British people do not even realise that they are even entering a malaria zone whilst others do realize but don’t consider malaria to pose a serious threat to their health. Then there are those that think that applying insect spray or sleeping under a mosquito net will be sufficient. Some people are worried about the possible side effects of anti malaria drugs so avoid taking them, others mistakenly believe that because they have had malaria before or because they have lived in a malaria zone years earlier that they are immune. Another reason is people failing to finish the course of malaria treatment, Malarone for example needs to be taken for seven days after returning. The NHS advises that if travelling abroad to seek your GP’s advice on which medicine is most suited to both yourself, to where you are going and to make sure your children are given the appropriate paediatric dose. The advice is to also take precautions to avoid getting bit in the first place, this can be done by using an insect repellent (containing 50% deet), using a mosquito net when asleep, keeping bare skin covered up and avoiding being outside between dusk and dawn, the time when mosquitoes are most active. The Health Protection Agency has stressed the point however that none of these preventative measure can guarantee that you will not get bit, and whilst these measures are certainly worth taking it must be remembered that just one bite is enough to contract malaria. Therefore this stresses the importance of taking anti malaria drugs, which if taken correctly for the full course can protect you from this potentially fatal disease. Malaria is a completely preventable disease for Britains travelling abroad according to the World Health Organisation, it seems however all that is needed to prevent further Britains contracting malaria is better education.