You escape the hunting lioness - then you get carried away by a female anopheles!

And you're left wishing that the female lion got you first!

  The African bush: Evenings around the campfire... Sleeping under the stars... Home of the female anopheles...

The days of African Explorers popping a weekly "anti-malaria" tablet, and thinking they are safe from the malaria parasite is gone! Today no anti-malarial drug, can claim to be 100% effective, although some are considered more effective in certain areas than others. This is due mainly to the increase in resistance by the parasite to previously safe prophylactics.

It has therefore become more important than ever, before departing for a malaria area, that you consult with an authority on the choice of prophylactics. Considerations such as duration of stay, season, personal health and altitude, as well as whether a particular area is chloroquine-sensitive or resistant, are all factors which may influence the choice of prophylactics.

Most African countries south of the Sahara desert, have endemic malaria areas within their borders. With the exception of the Ubombo and Ingwavuma districts in kWaZulu, South Africa, all of these areas are now considered chloroquine-resistant (requiring a non-chloroquine-based medication).

When you get home
Yes, I know... You took your tablets religiously. You wore long-sleeved shirts and trousers every evening around the campfire; burned your mosquito coils, and did everything possible to prevent being infected by the malaria parasite.

So did I. And I thought: "ha-ha, no Malaria for this boy!" W-R-O-N-G!   Some two weeks after returning from a malaria area, I came down with "flu-like" symptoms: alternating fever and chills, and flu-like aches and pains. Two days later I had this nasty suspicion that I may have malaria. My doctor decided that it must be flu. After all, I had taken my prophylactics! The next day I managed to convince him - when I was taken to hospital in a semi-coma. For the next 24 hours I neither knew where I was, nor cared!

I had three major "relapses" within the first year of contracting the disease. The second occurred while climbing in Malawi. On this occasion, I applied the lessons of self-treatment learned during previous bouts. 24 hours later I stood on a 6000 ft plateau, tired, but "cured"! So not only is it treatable (even self-treatable), but the treatment is very effective, and normally leaves one no worse for the wear!

If you've recently been to a malaria area, I suggest you treat "the flu" with extreme suspicion. A jaundiced complexion (this was the one my gp missed!), combined with any/all of fever, muscular and joint pains, diarrhea, fatigue, chills - all typical flu symptoms - are possible signs that you may have malaria. Consult your medical practitioner! Contracting malaria is not a pleasant experience, but prompt treatment will normally result in an almost immediate improvement. Lack of treatment, on the other hand, can be fatal!

More than 1 million people die every year from Malaria. 90% of these deaths occur in Africa. This need not be. Malaria is curable, and for that matter, controllable. Beware though: Malaria is not isolated to developing, or under developed countries or regions. An isolated case was reported in Michigan USA, in September 1995, with further reports from New Jersey, New York, and Texas (date unknown).

Attachments:  Preventative Measures
Factors influencing the choice of Prophylactics
Prophylactics and dosages
Futher Reading:  Malaria Prevention Information
          Information at McKinley Health Center
Malaria (various subheadings)
          Information at World Health Organisation
Malaria Weekly
          Weekly News releases on Malaria
Health Tips - Malaria
          Information for Travellers to Southern Africa

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