With singer, Cheryl Cole currently being treated for it and the holiday season upon us, it is a good time to think about malaria and how to avoid it. This killer disease requires constant vigilance as, if you do not continue medication, you can be struck down with it when you are back home.
To understand this, you have to know just what happens to you when you get infected.
Once you have been bitten by an infected mosquito, the parasite gets into your bloodstream and will have taken up residence in your liver within thirty minutes where it then starts reproducing rapidly. Now these offspring are split into two types, The first are active and will start to make you very ill. The others are put into a dormant state and will come alive years later giving those outbreaks that we have seen on TV and in the films where people sweat and shake uncontrollably.
Those that are active get into the blood stream and start to reproduce again. These blood cells erupt and spread the disease further. As they do this, they start to deplete the body’s oxygen, leading to the fevers and chills. These cells will also clog up various organs of the body like the brains and kidneys.
Now the nasty parasites release a special version of themselves into the blood stream that will be taken up by the next mosquito that bites you. When you think how little blood is sipped, that means there a lot of parasites are swishing around your body.
Of course, the best way to avoid malaria is to not get bitten in the first place, so, when you are in the malaria zones, which are in the countries located either side of the Equator, you should follow some basic safety measures to be sure that you don’t give them a chance to bite you.
First, always keep as much as your skin covered up as possible, particularly between sunset and sunrise when the females are most active. Any skin not covered should be covered in insect repellent and you should spray your clothes your clothes with it as well.
Always sleep under a mosquito net, even if there are screens on the windows and doors. The net should always have an effective insecticide impregnating it, just in case. If your room has air conditioning, put it at the lowest setting you can bear, as this will help to deter them.
Another problem with Malaria is that the medicine required is sometimes a little complicated. There are different types of drugs which depend on the area that you are going to. You are also advised to take some before you go, whilst you are in the region and for a couple of weeks after you come back. This is because of the life cycle of the parasite which can become active again. Most of the deaths from the disease in the West are associated with the fact that people often think that because they have returned home, they are out of danger and decide to give up before the end of the medication period. It really is important to seek advice from your doctor or a specialist travel surgery well before you travel in order to get the very latest advice.
There are many myths that your friends may tell you are true, do not believe them. Malaria is a deadly disease that can and often does kill people so don’t gamble with your health. It only takes one bite to infect you so even if you are going in the dry season or you never get bitten or your friend went and says you don’t need to take any precautions or any of the other pieces of nonsense they come up with, don’t take any notice. Speak to the professionals and adhere to their advice.
There is still a lot of research being done into just what it is that attracts mosquitoes and, conversely what will deter mosquitoes. One of the primary attractions for mosquitoes and other blood suckers, is carbon dioxide. This is given off in quantities by warm bloodied mammals, not only when they breathe out but also through the skin and so, for parasites, this is a good indication that there is a meal to be had. There has also been some research that says it is the perspiration on the feet that will also attract them. So those with smelly feet, should wash them before you go to bed, just in case.
One unusual thing that appears to deter the little pests is a chemical that appears to be breathed out when we are in a stressed condition. Researchers believe that this sends out a message that the mammal is not in a good condition and so the mosquito looks for a more healthy animal to bite. The scientists are working to develop a synthetic version that could be effective against mosquito attack.
So, if you are travelling to countries that straddle the equator, you really have to protect yourself against the attack of the dreaded mosquito because unless you are incredibly lucky, if you don’t, you are going to suffer and badly.