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Malaria - The Silent Killer

16:36 Mon 24th May 2010 |

A winter sun holiday sounds like just the thing when the nights start drawing in but it can turn into a nightmare if the proper precautions to protect against malaria are not taken. To remain in good health people leaving the UK should always consider looking for advice on malaria before they travel, according to a major health body.

Long thought to be isolated to tropical areas of the world malaria is now becoming more common in cooler countries as it can be contracted almost anywhere, NHS Direct has warned.

Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transmitted by a particular type of mosquito called the anopheles mosquito. When the female mosquito bites an infected person the parasite can be carried by the mosquito to another person who in turn will be infected when bitten.

A representative from NHS Direct commented that expectant mothers should be particularly interested in seeking advice from health officials as: "Malaria is a serious illness, particularly for pregnant women and can result in severe illness or death. Both the mother and unborn baby can be affected."

Symptoms tend to appear between 10 days and 4 weeks from the original bite. However, some forms of the disease may take up to a year to show, so it could be helpful to keep a record of where you have been for up to 12 months. You can be infected even if you have taken precautions. Malaria is often mistaken for flu in the early stages as the symptoms are very similar. If you have any cold or flu like symptoms after being on holiday you should seek medical help and it is important to advise the doctor of any foreign countries you have been to recently.

Prevention tips from NHS Direct:

•    Use insect repellent on your skin and in sleeping environments.
•    As the mosquito is usually most active during the early evening and night time, if possible minimise your time outdoors during these periods.
•    Wear trousers and long sleeved shirts rather than shirts and t shirts. This prevents the mosquitoes from getting to your skin in the first place.
•    Stay in accommodation which has screen doors and closed windows. In addition, sleeping under a mosquito net that has been treated with insecticide can be very effective at bite prevention.

If you have more questions about travel why not ask AnswerBank Travel.

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