|Dr Ellen Wright, GP and|
Clinical Chair of NHS
by our Health Correspondent | Greenwich
People travelling to countries with malaria are being warned to take health precautions – and not to assume that they are immune.
The warning from the Royal Borough of Greenwich and NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group comes as Public Health England revealed thatalmost 300 South-East London residents were notified as having malaria in 2014.
Malaria is caught by being bitten by a mosquito infected by the malaria parasite. This happens in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world, including large areas of Africa and Asia; Central and South America; and parts of the Middle East.
Public Health England advise that the best way to prevent malaria is to follow the ABCD of malaria prevention:
· be Aware
· use Bite avoidance measures
· take Chemoprophylaxis (preventive antimalarial tablets)
· seek prompt Diagnosis if you develop a fever during or after travel.
The Royal Borough and NHS Greenwich CCG are urging travellers going to countries where malaria is present to seek advice from their GP or a local pharmacy or from a specialist travel clinic.
Cllr Denise Scott-McDonald, the Royal Borough’s Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing and Public Health, said: “There is a misunderstanding in some communities that if you are travelling to your ‘home’ country, then you could be immune from malaria. That’s simply not the case – and anyone travelling to a country where malaria is widespread should get the proper health advice and take appropriate precautions.”
Dr Ellen Wright, a local GP and Chair of NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group, added: “Whether you are travelling for a holiday, or to visit friends or relatives, you should get health advice. Even if travelling at short notice it is not too late to get protected.”
|Anopheles Mosquito sucking blood of its victims.|
(Credit: via National Geographic).
N, a Greenwich woman aged in her early 30s, traveled to Sierra Leone to attend her grandmother’s burial rites.
She says: “The house was filled with relatives so I gave up my bed. I slept in the sitting room without a bed net although I used mosquito repellent. I was bitten several times and felt poorly soon after."
‘”In less than a week, my symptoms had developed rapidly; I remember not being able to sit up straight or stand as I had terrible muscle aches, breathing difficulties and headaches. My mum thought it might be malaria but suggested we visit the hospital as I was experiencing shooting spinal pain and severe night sweats at this point."
“The hospital gave me a blood test that confirmed I had malaria. My condition had deteriorated so badly, that antimalarial drugs had to be injected to remove the parasite from my blood quickly and to prevent the disease becoming even more severe. Days later, I reverted to antimalarial tablets and completed the prescribed course. It was an awful ordeal."
“It took me months to recover fully from the illness but I consider myself lucky as I did not suffer complications or die of malaria - as millions of people do each year. I now make a conscious effort to take preventative antimalarial tablets when travelling to malaria-affected countries as well taking precautionary measures to avoid mosquito bites.”
Data published recently by Public Health England reveals that in 2014 there were 1,586 reported cases of imported malaria, a 5.7% increase on 2013.
* For more information on malaria and how to protect yourself, visit: