Of all of the diseases that you could possibly find yourself contracting while on a foreign holiday, malaria is no joke. It is a serious disease spread by the mosquitoes that are so ubiquitous in the more exotic parts of the world, and it can be fatal if it is not promptly diagnosed and treated.
There are various steps that you can take to protect yourself against malaria – below are just three of them.
1. Research your risk level in advance
Given the many amazing deals that leading operators like Imagine Holidays offer for breaks in the Seychelles, you’ll be reassured to learn that it is a malaria-free part of the world, thanks to the absence of the anopheles mosquito. However, the disease is present in more than 100 other countries, including across Central and South America, large parts of Africa and Asia and areas of the Middle East, so you should guard against complacency by researching the risk level of your intended destination in advance.
Remember that the country you are visiting is not the only important factor to consider, with others including how long you are staying, the time of year that you are travelling and the activities in which you intend to participate. Even within one country, the risk of infection can vary greatly.
2. Get an antimalarial if needed
If your destination does have a malaria risk, you may have to practice malaria prophylaxis on a daily or weekly basis. Seek advice well ahead of your trip from a reputable healthcare provider, travel clinic or online doctor service, so that you can be sure that you have prepared suitably.
You may need to start taking your medication up to two weeks prior to entering the risk area, although if the level of risk is only intermediate, it may be sufficient to simply bring stand-by medication with you, which could then be taken during your journey if you show flu-like symptoms.
Use mosquito repellent
Find an insect spray that contains pyrethroids and use it in all living and sleeping areas, particularly during the evening and at night. Apply insect repellent creams or lotions to any exposed areas of skin – again, this is especially important to do during the evening and night-time hours, although we would advise you to apply it during the daytime as well, given that you can never rule out the possibility of a mosquito biting you in broad daylight.
There’s one other very important tip to give on the subject of repellent – if you are using sunscreen, always apply that first, followed by the repellent, given that the latter won’t work if it is coated in a thick layer of sunscreen. The alternative is to simply use a repellent-containing sunscreen.
With the initial symptoms of malaria – as outlined by such reputable sources as the NHS – including a high temperature (fever), headache, sweats, chills and vomiting, it’s vital to be alert to them and seek immediate medical advice if you do develop them during your stay. Make sure you are thoroughly prepared for your journey, but also focus on enjoying your time away.