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Malaria

What is Malaria?

It is caused by a parasite which is transmitted by the bite of mosquitoes in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. The time between the infective bite and the appearance of symptoms varies between 7-30 days. Some may have longer periods up to 10 months. The symptoms of Malaria include sequential chills, fever, sweating, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness. The very serious consequences of the disease (especially with falciparum malaria) are mental disturbances, convulsions and various blood and kidney disorders. These can lead to death sometimes within 24 hours.

How does it spread?

Malaria is spread by the bite of an infective female Anopheles mosquito. The parasite enters the human body while the mosquito is sucking blood.

How can you prevent it?

Avoiding the bite of mosquito is the first line and the best defence against contracting Malaria. You can take the following precautions in preventing mosquito bites:

  • Stay in air-conditioned rooms or those with screens.

  • Use bed nets.

  • Wear long sleeves and pants whilst outdoor, especially during the dusk-to-dawn period.

  • Apply an insect repellent to the exposed skin. This has to be repeated every few hours. An effective repellent should contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-toluamide). The maximum concentration for adults is 35% while that for children is 20%.

There are drugs that can be taken for prevention, especially in some high risk areas. The commonly used drugs include chloroquine, proguanil, mefloquine and doxycycline. The choices are based on the particular destinations you are going to visit, the risks as determined by your travelling behaviour and your previous health status. They should only be taken after consulting a doctor. If you decide to take such medication you should start it before the trip, continue throughout the trip and for four more weeks after leaving the malarious area.

If you develop symptoms like those of influenza or a high fever during or after the trip you should consult a doctor immediately. Urgent blood tests may be performed and prompt treatment is vital.

How is it treated?

Treatment includes anti-malarial drugs and various supportive measures. Some infections may require longer treatment to eradicate the parasites completely from the body.

[Malaria, 2007]

Malaria Statistics for Western Pacific Region

Country Year 2002
Cases Deaths
Papua New Guinea 79,822 647
Solomon Islands 74,865 61
Viet Nam 47,807 50
Cambodia 46,902 457
Philippines 37,005 71
China 25,520 42
Laos 21,384 195
Vanuatu 14,339 4
Malaysia 11,053 38
South Korea 1,763 0
TOTAL 360,460 1,565

 

 


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Last revision date: 10 October 2012