Much of the student population who travel to the tropics in the summer do so in the hopes of avoiding the stresses of 9am lectures, yearning instead to live carefree, if only for a month or so. The lure of sleeping under the stars and forgetting all they learnt in those late night sessions in Hallward tempts thousands every year. But for some the return home is a little less pleasant. Malaria is the most common tropical disease imported into the UK. With around 2,000 British citizens contracting malaria abroad each year, it is clear that many either underestimate the risks or simply fail to take proper precautions.

When being reckless can be worse than doing nothing at all

The instructions for use on anti-malarials are not merely serving suggestions, as I found out when I spoke to Jenny Hoffman, who failed to heed their warnings. She described how ignoring the proper methods for taking doxycycline (one of the most common anti-malarials) left her with oesophagitis. This took the form of sores in her throat which made it impossible to swallow even liquids and led to excruciating pain which lasted for days. All this was caused from simply swallowing a pill on an empty stomach and without a glass of water.

The best ways to avoid Malaria

Taking anti-malarials in the correct fashion, even after you return home, will reduce your risk of contracting the disease. But there are a number of other factors to consider. The best way to avoid malaria is to not be bitten in the first place. Use an anti-mosquito spray or roll-on which contains at least 50% deet (except on your face). Sleep under a mosquito net which is tucked under you mattress – if you don’t do this, you’re much more likely to touch the edges or create an opening during the night, allowing mosquitos to bite you. Whilst malaria is a very serious and deadly disease (approximately 1 million people die from it every year), when all appropriate measures are taken the chances of catching it are very small. Your hedonistic travels will be all the more enjoyable if you take simple steps to avoid a trip to the local hospital.
Whilst we hope this guide will be useful, it does not constitute proper medical advice, which should always be sought if traveling to any potentially hazardous area.

Bruno Albutt

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Image by gorgeoux via Flickr

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