What is Malaria and how to prevent it?
Malaria is a serious tropical disease that kills more than 1 million people per year for which there is no vaccine or 100% effective prevention. It is transmitted to humans by the bite of the Anopheles mosquitoes and exists in several countries of the American, African and Asian continents.
The incubation period between the infected mosquito bite and the onset of symptoms depends on the parasite species and can range from 7 days to 4 weeks. Some of the most common symptoms of malaria are: headache, muscle pain, lack of strength and lack of appetite, gastrointestinal disturbances, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, jaundice, fever accompanied by chills, followed by intense heat and heavy sweating, recurrence of fever at intervals of 2 or 3 days, jaundice (yellowish skin) moderate.
The symptoms of malaria can be very similar to those of the flu, so in your presence we should suspect the disease if we are in an endemic area or if we have returned there less than a month ago.
The prevention of malaria is based on prophylactic medication, which varies in composition (eg chloroquine, mefloquine, doxycycline) according to the region of the globe, and behavioral measures that must be adopted to avoid insect bites, such as:
1. Apply insect repellent regularly on exposed body parts (face, hands, neck, ears, feet, ankles, etc.), particularly from dusk. Repellents with the DEET substance are usually the most effective.
2. After dark, wear light clothing with long sleeves and legs. You can also apply a spray repellent directly on the clothing.
3. Avoid, whenever possible, activities along water courses, lakes, streams, wetlands and wetlands, as these are the favorites of mosquitoes.
4. Avoid using perfume and after-shave, particularly at night, as mosquitoes are attracted by the smell.
5. At night, stay in places with air conditioning and/or protective nets on the door and windows. You can also apply the repellent on the outside of the doors and windows and use an electric diffuser.
6. Sleep under a mosquito net, ensuring that no part of the body is leaning against the net (rectangular nets are safer than triangular nets). Before bedtime, make sure there are no mosquitoes under the net and that the mosquito is not torn. You can also apply some repellent directly on the net.
7. Drinking a whiskey-tonic every night as it is said that whiskey and quinine (present in some tonic waters) were used to treat Malaria when there were no medicines yet. For yes, for no, it seems to be a good recipe that, even if it does nothing to prevent disease, always helps to sleep well!
All medication has side effects and there are no perfect treatments. Malaria tablets are a bit “toxic” to our body and may, in some cases and particularly in The United States, cause malaise or even affect the functioning of some organs like liver and kidneys. The need to take into account factors such as:
- specific areas to be visited within a country
- length of stay within endemic areas
- the degree of exposure to mosquitoes to which we will be subject
- whether or not to adopt anti-mosquito behavior measures
- the general state of health and the age of the traveler.
In any case, the disease is more dangerous and deadly than any preventive measure or medication and I think it will be a mistake to take unnecessary risks.