Malaria, one of the world’s biggest killers, is an infectious disease passed on by a mosquito bite. The following separates facts from myths, answers frequently asked questions and helps prevent malaria while travelling.
There are many myths surrounding the disease, ranging from “I hardly ever get bitten by mosquitoes so I’m not at risk” to “I am staying in a five star hotel so I’ll be fine”, but the facts are that it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to contract malaria.
British travellers are increasingly visiting malaria hotspots with a 200% increase in travel in the past fifteen years. As they visit more exotic locations they are increasingly putting their health at risk by not taking the correct precautions. Travel should be fun but people should be malaria aware.
- The UK is one of the biggest importers of malaria among industrialised countries
- Every year approximately 2,000 British travellers return home with malaria
- It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to contract malaria
- Malaria is an infectious disease caused by a tiny parasite that invades red blood cells
- Malaria can present from any time from about a week up to a year after exposure
- Over 50% of cases among UK travellers tend to be people aged between 25 and 54
- The incidence of malaria in children has tripled over the past 30 years
- Malaria is a preventable infection but can be fatal if left untreated – an average of nine people in the UK die each year of malaria
- Travellers are at risk when visiting malarious destination areas without taking bite avoidance measures and antimalarial medication
Where in the World
Malaria can be found in over 100 countries that are visited by more than 125 million international travellers every year. High risk areas are usually found throughout the equatorial regions where the climate is hot and wet throughout the year. Over two thirds of malaria cases are contracted in Africa and protection is still needed in parts of Central South America and South East Asia. Travellers in central and South America, especially areas in the northern Amazon rainforest, should also take precautions.
*Image of close-up of a mosquito sucking blood via Shutterstock