Malaria is an increasing problem around the world.
In part this is caused by changing global temperatures and drug
resistance. Millions of people die from Malaria each year and it
is increasingly becoming an ongoing problem for the traveller to
the Malaria zones of the world. In 2003 the UK saw 1,722 cases of
Climate greatly affects the feeding and breeding
habits of the malaria mosquito. It is prevalent in tropical climates,
but usually not higher than 1,500-2,000m above sea levels. Mosquitoes
breed only in fresh water. World climate and global warming affect
breeding and the spread of malaria. A countrywide change in 2°C
can affect numbers of malaria cases over a season.
If you are visiting a malaria
zone, see you TravelHealth advisor at least a month prior to travelling
so that suitable medication can be arranged. Most medication is
taken for a set period before going, continued while you are in
a malaria zone and for a set period on return.
If you suffer from any heart
condition, are pregnant, breast-feeding or epileptic, it is important
that you inform your travel health advisor as this might influence
the medication you are given.
Mosquitoes feed between dusk and dawn. The mosquitoes
tend to respond to light in their feeding habits and are most active
in low light hours after dusk and in the hours prior to dawn. Female
mosquitoes will take a blood meal just before laying their eggs,
which are laid at night. It is therefore important that repellents
are used between dusk and dawn to prevent being bitten.
Use a repellent that has DEET, or contains a natural
repellent such as lemon and eucalyptus; try to avoid using products
that are connected to homemade concoctions!
While clothing alone will not protect you against
mosquito bites, it can help in preventing bites when used along
with other careful prevention. Clothing that covers the body, such
as long trousers and long sleeves; socks etc., worn after dark will
lower the risk of being bitten. While mosquitoes are able to bite
through many materials, canvas mosquito boots and thick denim jeans
will make it more difficult.
Clothing that has been impregnated with permethrin
will also help repel mosquitoes. This clothing along with impregnated
wrist and ankle bands lower the risk of being bitten.
If you are reluctant to impregnate everyday clothing, impregnated
netting worn over the clothing will prevent chemical contact with
the skin. It is important that fellow travellers are protected in
a similar way, as repelled mosquitoes will go to another person
who is not protected!
Research has suggested that mosquitoes are attracted
to sweat and so keeping clothes clean, especially socks (!), might
help. It has also been suggested that mosquitoes are attracted to
dark colours, so wearing light colours or white clothing might help
prevent being bitten.
While air conditioning does help keep the mosquitoes
away due to the lower temperature, it is important that it is left
on all day and that the windows are not left open at night!
Using a mosquito net in an area where malaria
is present is a good idea. Ideally the net should be impregnated
with permethrin at least every six months or when it is washed.