More than 400,000 people die from malaria every year – and people who travel abroad for work carry a significant risk of infection. The disease exists in 103 countries worldwide but 90% of malaria-related deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, which includes the oil and gas hubs of Angola and Nigeria.
Although malaria is preventable, more than 1,600 travellers return home to the UK with the disease every year. Business and professional travellers are in the top three groups of carriers, representing greater numbers even than holidaymakers and visiting foreign nationals.
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes that have been infected by a parasite, and humans become infected when they are in turn bitten by a mosquito. Someone who has the disease will normally experience a high fever, headache and other flu-like symptoms, and these can happen anywhere from a week to a month after being bitten.
While it is impossible to completely prevent the spread of malaria, following the ABCD rules from the World Health Organisation (WHO) will greatly reduce the risk of infection and becoming seriously ill. The ABCD guidelines form a central pillar of Mintra’s eLearning course Malaria Awareness Training, but what do they mean?
A – Awareness of risk
Before you travel overseas, consider the malaria risks in your destination. In addition to sub-Saharan Africa, malaria also has a high level of transmission in South East Asia and South America. If you are travel to an area where there is a malaria risk, then you should consider what action you need to take to keep safe.
B – Bite prevention
As malaria is transmitted by mosquito bites, it’s important to take steps to reduce the chance of being bitten. Consider using a repellent containing DEET – a liquid effective in preventing bites – at a concentration of at least 20%. Apply it regularly, especially in the evenings, and also sleep covered by a mosquito net.
C – Chemoprophylaxis
Chemoprophylaxis is the administration of medicine to prevent disease, and it’s strongly advised that you consider the use of antimalarial medication to reduce the risk of contracting malaria should you be bitten. Not all antimalarials are suitable for all geographic regions as the parasite has built up a resistance to the drug in some parts of the world. Take advice from a GP or pharmacist, who will also advise on how these drugs might interact with any other medication you may be taking.
D – Diagnosis
If you experience typical malaria symptoms, including fever, shivering and vomiting, either while on your trip or up to a year after returning home, you should seek medical advice. Malaria is treatable and ensuring that you get correct, timely treatment could be the difference between life and death.
Mintra’s highly informative Malaria Awareness Training course is based entirely on advice from WHO and the latest HSE guidelines. The knowledge gained in the course will equip in staying safe while working in areas where there is a high malaria transmission rate.