Malaria is a condition that is extremely common in subtropical and tropical countries. It is commonly caused by protozoan parasites that are spread by infected mosquitoes. It is estimated that 1 million people die each year from this condition. The good news is that there are several things that can be done to prevent malaria.
If you will be traveling to a tropical or subtropical region, then you will need to take anti-malarial medications before you leave. Your doctor may recommend that you start taking them a few months before your trip. Even though anti-malarial medications are very effective, the World Health Organization still recommends that pregnant women and young children avoid going to places where malaria is prevalent.
Keep in mind that you will need to continue taking this medication for one to four weeks after you return from your trip. Anti-malarial medications are most effective when you take them for the recommended amount of time. Scientists are currently trying to develop a malaria vaccine. There have been studies done on mice that have tested the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. There is hope that a malaria vaccine will be available in the near future.
You need to make sure that you use insect repellent any time that you go to an area that is known for malaria. There are many types of insect repellent available, but you need to make sure that you use one with N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, or DEET. Insect repellents can vary in DEET percentage, but young children should use one that has less than 24% DEET. You may also want to spray your clothing with an insecticide.
When you are outside, you need to wear protective clothing. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long-sleeved pants will help reduce your chances of getting bitten by a mosquito. You should also wear a wide-brimmed hat.
It is best to stay inside after it has gotten dark. You can also reduce your chances of developing malaria by staying in a room that has an air conditioner or electric fan. Additionally, you may want to consider using aerosol insecticides in the house where you are staying.
While there is currently not a fully developed malaria vaccine, researchers have made some important breakthroughs in recent years. In 2013, U.S. scientists studied volunteers who agreed to receive the experimental vaccine, and the findings were quite promising—100% of patients were protected from malaria. However, this is only one study. More testing will be required, and some experts estimate that it could be another 10 years before the vaccine is ready for general use.
Malaria can cause many complications and result in death, but it can be prevented. Taking anti-malarial medicines is one of the best things that can be done to prevent this condition. You should also use insect repellent, wear protective clothing, and stay inside after dark.