At least one patient in the UK dies of malaria every year. The symptoms aren’t recognised in time and malaria treatment is simply started too late… Sad story, isn’t it? Particularly when you realise that malaria is easily treatable with medication. The only thing is that treatment has to happen fast, to avoid irreversible complications. This is why it is so important to know the symptoms of malaria and recognise it so that the treatment can be started at an early stage.
Preventative treatment of malaria
Why would you risk the chance of starting the treatment too late? Prevention is a better plan. Right?
If you are planning to travel to a country where malaria is a known risk, it is important to take the right precautions to prevent malaria. You can do this in two ways:
- Take malaria pills as preventative treatment.
- Protect yourself against the bite of a malaria mosquito.
Preventative treatment with malaria pills
Malaria pills significantly reduce the risk of contracting malaria. When used exactly as prescribed, malaria pills make it highly unlikely that you will contract the disease, even if you are bitten. And if you do get malaria anyway, the preventative malaria pills slow the course of the disease. This gives you more time to start treatment before any complications occur.
Protect yourself against the bite of a malaria mosquito
There are several ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Mosquitoes bite in the evening and at night, so you should take the following precautions:
- Wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts or jackets
- Use an insect repellent containing 30% DEET on any exposed skin
- Sleep in a mosquito net
- Keep the location of your stay mosquito-free by leaving doors and windows closed (please note: mosquitoes do not like air-conditioned spaces)
- If possible, use a mosquito coil when you spend time outside (such as an outdoor terrace).
Treatment of a malaria infection
Did you develop flu-like symptoms, such as a fever and chills, during or after your stay in a malarial area? And have your symptoms lasted more than two days? Then you should go to a doctor and have yourself tested for malaria. It could just be flu, but it could also be malaria. If you have already returned from your trip, make sure you tell your GP that you have been to a malarial region.
Malaria can be diagnosed using a blood test. This is usually done by looking at a drop of blood under a microscope.
If you are diagnosed with malaria, treatment will start immediately. The type of malaria treatment is partially dependent on the strain of malaria you have contracted. In mild cases, the prescription medication can be taken at home. Severe cases of malaria will require hospitalisation.
The following medication can be used to treat malaria:
- Doxycycline in combination with quinine
The most modern and effective treatment is a combination of malaria drugs. This is known as the ACT method (Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy’).
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Last updated on July 13, 2016.