Anopheles mosquito feeding – click
Malaria is a serious life threatening illness caused by a parasite plasmodium and spread by mosquito bites. There are a number of strains of Malaria and the disease varies in it’s severity. If left untreated it is potentially fatal.
Certain groups are at increased risk of getting severe malaria such as the very young, the elderly, those with an impaired immune system and pregnant women:
Malaria is distributed world wide. It’s distribution varies and is affected by weather patterns.
A reliable and effective vaccination for malaria is not yet available to the public although progress is being made in the quest for a vaccine.
Malaria prevention involves prevention of mosquito bites and taking antimalarial medication whilst exposed to the risk and for a variable time after returning from the malaria zone–the amount of time one takes antimalarial medication will depend on the type of medication.
The World Health Organization (WHO)have stressed the importance of an ABCD approach to Malaria prevention:
A: Awareness—be aware of the risk before travel and take precautions to prevent mosquito bites such as insect repellent, sleeping in accommodation with screened windows and doors and ideally air conditioned.
B: Bite Prevention. Wearing long sleeved clothes and long pants, avoiding staying outdoors after dark (when the female Anopheles mosquito which carries the malaria parasite, feeds), using insect repellent/insecticide impregnated bed nets etc.)
C Chemoprophylaxis. This term means the taking of an antimalarial medication to prevent malaria–it works by killing any malaria parasite which enters the blood stream after a mosquito bite. It is vitally important to continue antimalarial medication for the recommended period after leaving a malaria zone.
D Diagnosis. Report any fever whilst in a malaria zone or even after your return from a malaria zone–even if you have taken your antimalarial medication correctly–you must tell your doctor that you have been to a malaria zone and your doctor is very likely to do a blood test for malaria in these circumstances.
For further information on specific malaria risks and preventive strategies, talk to your GP.
Animation of Malaria Lifecycle:
DENGUE FEVER & DENGUE HAEMORRHAGIC FEVER
Dengue is a viral infection of the Flavivirus variety and spread to humans by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti (rarely Aedes albopictus) mosquito.
- Retro-orbital Pain (Pain behind the eyes)
- Rash–(often starts as fever subsides and lasts 2-4 days)
- Muscle and joint pains
- Nausea and Vomiting.
Some people who are infected with Dengue have no symptoms.
About 1% of those who contract dengue Fever develop Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever with manifestation of bleeding as a result of a low platelet count.
Dengue is a serious and widespread infection and is potentially fatal.
There is no vaccination for this illness.
Incubation period is 3-14 days.
The distribution is very similar to that of Malaria however unlike malaria Dengue risk is higher in urban and densely populated areas.
Avoiding dengue is all about avoiding Mosquito bites:
- Wear long sleeved clothing.
- Use Insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin
- Stay in air conditioned accommodation with door and window insect proof screens.
- For long stays ensure that there are no sources of stagnant water in your vicinity which act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
- Use insecticidal knock down sprays to eliminate mosquitoes indoors.
- On your return, should you develop a fever or are unwell, ensure you see your doctor promptly and tell him/her about your recent overseas travel.