Monday, March 3, 2008

Travel Health Guide - Protect yourself against Malaria

Malaria Protect GuideOne of the most common questions travelers ask when going to tropical countries in Asia is whether they should take malaria medication. The fact is, there is no sole answer to the question – it really depends on where exactly you’re going and what you’ll be doing. For example, it would be sensible to take preventative malaria medication if you were planning a trek in Northern Thailand where it is close to the Myanmar border, while the same measures would be unnecessary for a trip to popular beach island, Phuket or Bali.

According to the WHO, preventing Malaria is as simple as ABCD. This is their prevention outline:

  • Be Aware of the malarial risks you face in the country, the symptoms and the incubation period.
  • Avoid being Bitten by mosquitoes, especially between dusk and dawn.
  • Comply with appropriate prophylactic medication.
  • Seek immediate Diagnosis and treatment if you are experiencing a fever one week or more in the country you’ve traveled to.

How should I prepare? Keeping in mind the WHO strategy as outlined above, protecting yourself against malaria is mostly about common sense. Here are some other tips:

  • Strategize about what to pack. Since malaria is spread through mosquitoes, you can take simple measures to stop yourself being bitten, such as wearing long-sleeved and trouser-length clothes during the evening and using mosquito repellents and nets.
  • If traveling to a high-risk area, prepare yourself accordingly (note that many high-risk areas will have strains of multi-drug resistant malaria so make sure you check with your doctor that you have the correct medication).
  • Talk to your doctor openly about the real risks of contracting the disease in your travels. Remember that anti-malarials can be expensive, have nasty side effects and are not 100% effective so make sure you need to be taking them.
  • Go to online forums to read about other traveler experiences with malaria-affected countries.

Where can I get more information? For fact sheets and a list of malaria-affected countries and preventative measures you can go also go to the Center for Disease Control.

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