Even though we might not want to accept it or don’t know a lot of information about it, there are a lot of countries or area that have a high malaria risk. With that being said, it’s important to know what areas are dangerous for you and ways to prevent or treat the disease.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is an infectious disease caused by the parasitic single-celled microorganisms. It is a disease carried by mosquitos, most frequently by a female Anopheles mosquito (that is already infected).
The usual symptoms are fever, vomiting, constant tiredness and bad headaches. They usually appear after 10 days of being infected by a mosquito.
Moreover, other common symptoms can be severe sweating, muscle pain, and convulsions. They can usually be mistaken for simple flu, so is important to pay attention to every signal your body gives you, in case you think you were surrounded by the danger.
Furthermore, there are certain cases when malaria can cause really bad symptoms, such as yellow skin, severe seizures or even death – that’s why it needs to be treated accordingly in order to make sure that it won’t be needed to deal with the disease again.
When it comes to malaria risk areas, there are a lot of examples we can give and they can be ordered on a scale - high risk to low risk. If you are planning on traveling to another country, it’s a must to check if there are any risks to get malaria or any other disease. If there are, you need to carefully listen to your doctor because he might give you some vital guidelines that you need to follow. Later on, in this article, we will be covering ways of preventing and treating this disease.
Usually, the virus is more present in the warmer countries around the globe because the higher the temperature is the more Anopheles are. This virus cannot develop in the mosquitos without hot temperatures. Until now, 99+ countries have had malaria incidents.
In regions like Asia, Africa South and Central America, Oceania and the Middle East, malaria is widely spread and it involves a risk. Even though this disease is distributed in so many places, there are different species that can infect humans.
By stable areas we understand those regions where the virus is transmitted the entire year – this means that adults, for instance, will become more and more immune, while children will get sick - sub-Saharan Arica is an example in this way.
On the other side, there are the unstable areas – that means that the disease is transmitted only for a short period of time, usually on a specific season. This causes short epidemics and they can have an unstable intensity. India can be an example of this because the country doesn’t develop an immune system due to the conditions and the fact that malaria transmission isn’t as sustained as it should.
How to Prevent Malaria
Before deciding to go to a country where malaria is at risk, you need to know that you are indeed exposed to the transmission of the virus.
You need to learn about methods to prevent the disease and always be prepared. Do your research before going to a country that it’s at high risk and if you have the possibility, try going to a stable area, in order to diminish the chances of any virus.
First of all, you need to be sure of your background – whether you are or aren’t immune to the virus. For example, certain citizens that are established in EU countries that have another ethnicity will go back to their country of origin that has a high risk of malaria and think that they won’t get the virus because they are immune – but it’s not always the case.
Secondly, it’s important to know that if you’re pregnant, have a dysfunctional spleen (or absent) or are immunosuppressed, it is recommended not to go in such a country, when the risk is high – pregnant woman will draw mosquitos faster than a normal individual so it is dangerous for her to be exposed because it can cause severe health issues.
Another way of preventing malaria is to try as much as possible to avoid open areas at night – this means not to sleep outside during the night because there are a lot of mosquitos that can carry the virus.
Try using a mosquito repellent every time you go outside in order to make the insects stay away from your skin as much as possible. Using a spray that contains pyrethroids is a great choice, especially during the evening or night, where there are plenty of insects that could bite you.
If the country you plan on going is a huge risk, you might consider taking an antimalarial treatment. You should talk to your doctor to see if this is necessary and see how much time prior to your leaving you should start taking any sort of medication that will prevent you from malaria transmission.
Stay safe – try to protect yourself as much as possible. If you are on vacation, you’ll have the tendency to be reckless because you won’t consider it being risky, especially if you don’t see any symptoms.
You have to remember that the symptoms aren’t showing as fast, and you could find out that you have malaria when you get back home in your country. With that being said, make sure you are protected: wear long sleeves whenever you can because you diminish the risk by wearing long pants and blouses. Moreover, try using mosquito sprays and even a bed-net that has insecticide on it – the more, the merrier!
Another important advice is that you shouldn’t be buying any malaria medication when you are in an area that has a high risk of infection. It’s recommended to be prepared ahead of making a trip and having a consultation with your doctor because that will be the only way you will be 100% sure that you’re doing the right thing.
Something we haven’t covered about is another way of preventing this virus. It was approved in 2015 only in Europe and it needs four injections.
Studies showed that this vaccine isn’t as efficient as expected, not being recommended to babies that are under a month. Furthermore, the results only showed that this vaccine worked only for a 30-50%, but further tests are still made.
Depending on the area you are, a vaccine can be necessary because all the other ways of staying away from mosquitos such as sprays, repellants and bug nets will not always be able to have a 100% efficacy. With that being said, you should talk to your doctor to see what would fit your situation the best.
How to Diagnose it
Well, you can’t really diagnose it by yourself, as it has, at first, common symptoms. As I said before, it can easily be mistaken with flu or a cold so that’s why you need to see a doctor if you’re having any symptoms and you’ve been exposed to an area that had the virus.
It is important to be tested because there are different types of malaria and it’s important to know what you have. These tests will identify what type of virus you have so you would know what treatment you need.
Is it Contagious?
Happily, it is not contagious. Malaria cannot be transmitted from human to humans like a cold or any viruses - it is only transmitted by the mosquitos. With that being said, you do not have to worry about being in contact with someone that has this disease because you can’t get it.
As I’ve stated before, people don’t see the symptoms right ahead, at least in some cases so this is why you need to prevent yourself from taking the virus. For example, there have been cases where people had discovered they had malaria after one and a half year since they returned home – and they didn’t have any severe symptoms until then (they thought they had the flu but it was actually the virus).
All in all, I really hope that this article made some light regarding the Malaria virus and what is exactly imply and how can you avoid having it while being in a country that is at risk.
Our advice is to always do your research before traveling to another country or just in general. It’s important to stay safe and be prudent regarding viruses, especially this one that is so common and “easy” to get. Who would have thought that a mosquito bite can do so much? Well, it can and that’s why you definitely need to protect yourself with mosquito repellent, bug nets or any other ways that you’ll make the mosquitos stay far away from your skin.
Stay safe, stay healthy and enjoy your life adventures while being protected at all times! And if you ever feel that you are in danger or that you possibly got bit by a mosquito, you need to contact your doctor immediately.