24 Mar 2022

World Malaria Day 2022: Malaria Reminder

Advice for travellers and health professionals World Malaria Day 2022: Malaria Reminder

Malaria is a potentially serious parasitic infection transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Most cases of malaria in the UK report travel to Africa, with the majority travelling to West Africa. Every year malaria deaths are reported in the UK in travellers who visited risk countries. In 2019, fifteen fatal malaria cases were reported in the UK [1].

Around the world, COVID-19 has had an impact on the provision of other health care services, including malaria surveillance and the delivery of malaria prevention measures [2,3]. Travellers to malaria risk areas should be aware that there will have been disruptions to malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and surveillance, control and elimination programmes may not be as robust as they have been in previous years.

In the run up to World Malaria Day, on 25th April, travellers are reminded to consider the risk of malaria at a destination; use preventive measures where indicated and be vigilant for the signs of malaria.

Advice for travellers

Pre-travel advice should be sought, ideally 4-6 weeks prior to travel; although last-minute advice is still useful if time is short.

If you are visiting a malaria risk area, ensure that you follow all the important steps for malaria prevention:

A - Awareness of the malaria risk at your chosen destination
B - Bite prevention
C - Chemoprophylaxis (use of appropriate malaria prevention tablets*)
D – Diagnosis, if you develop symptoms of malaria you should seek prompt medical advice without delay

*If taken as prescribed, modern prevention methods are highly effective and can greatly reduce your risk of dying. However, they do not give 100% protection; you should still avoid bites and seek prompt advice if you develop symptoms.

If you or any of your family has a fever or flu-like illness after being in a country with malaria you must see your doctor urgently. Tell them where you have been and mention malaria. Remember you could still have malaria, even a year after a trip to a malaria-risk region [4].

Individual country specific malaria risk and prevention advice is available in the Country Information pages.

Advice for health professionals

Malaria should be suspected in anyone with a fever or a history of fever returning from or having previously visited a malaria endemic area, regardless of whether they have taken prophylaxis.

The minimum incubation period for naturally acquired infection is six days. Most patients with Plasmodium falciparum infection present in the first month or months after exposure; almost all present within six months of exposure. Vivax or ovale infections commonly present later than six months after exposure and presentation may be delayed for years [5].

If a traveller's itinerary included travel to a malaria endemic area, they must have a blood test result for malaria on the same day.


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