What is Malaria?
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease transmitted through the bite of an Anopheles mosquito carrying the Plasmodium parasite.
What Are The Symptoms?
Symptoms do not develop immediately (normally after 7 to 18 days) and in some cases may not develop for several months or even a year. Symptoms are flu-like and include high fever, sweating, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
How Is It Contracted?
After being bitten by an infected mosquito Plasmodium parasites enters the bloodstream and travels to the liver, where they mature. Once mature, the parasites reenter the bloodstream and start to infect red blood cells, which then burst.
Destruction of the red blood cells can affect the internal organs of the body in different ways and result in life-threatening complications.
Because the disease is transmitted via blood it is possible that an infection could occur without being bitten by an infected mosquito. Drug users sharing needles, recipients of blood transfusions, or people having tattoos with infected instruments could potentially be at risk.
Who Is At Most Risk?
People in areas where there are infected Anopheles mosquitoes and people who have little resistance, such as children, pregnant women, and visitors from countries where there is no malaria present.
Where Are You At Risk?
Potentially you are at risk in any tropical country, but most sources of information tend to generalise. In Thailand, for example, it only tends to be a problem in certain border areas, notably along the Thailand/Burma border. In Bangkok and most Thai cities and tourist resorts the risk of infection is very low.
There is no vaccine, but there are several types of antimalarial drug that are used to prevent and cure malaria. They are designed to kill the parasites at different stages of their life cycle. The type of drug depends on which part of the world you are visiting.
When treating patients who have been infected, higher does of the drugs are prescribed. To prevent malaria the drugs should be taken before, during and after your visit.
In the colonial era colonists drank gin and tonic to help prevent malaria. Quinine has long been known to have antimalarial properties and it is also the ingredient in tonic water that provides the bitter taste.
The best advice for travellers visiting places where there are lots of mosquitoes is to try to avoid being bitten, although I realise this is difficult. Be especially careful between dusk and dawn and try to keep mosquitoes out of your bedroom.
Cover up with light coloured clothing and use effective insect repellents. In many parts of Thailand the risk of contracting Malaria is low or non-existent, but the risk of contracting Dengue Fever is very high.
Even if the mosquitoes that bite you carry no diseases, the bites are extremely irritating.
When Should You Be Vaccinated?
Start taking antimalarial medication three weeks before your trip, during your trip, and one to four weeks afterwards.
Does The Vaccine Have Any Side Effects?
Lots, both physical and emotional. The medication used to make me feel quite dizzy and nauseous. Frustratingly, I only discovered in later years that antimalarial drugs were not actually necessary for the places that I visited.
Source Of information
GlaxoSmithKline, Wikipedia, local doctors, local hospitals, newspaper articles, various.
Travel Related Diseases
Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.
One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. I always use Agoda to book hotels in Thailand. The company was established in Thailand and has great local knowledge, as well as a huge inventory of hotels.
If you click on one of the destinations opposite you will get a list of hotel deals from Agoda. It's generally a good idea to book on-line because you will get a good room rate and you won't suffer the disappointment of arriving at a hotel to find that it is full.
I book hotels regularly in Thailand and I have always found Agoda to be the best on-line travel agent. At times I have spent a lot of time researching hotel prices and although other deals sometimes look better at first I always end up returning to Agoda.
If you don't wish to pay for your hotel at the time of booking, Booking.com normally allows you to pay when you check in at the hotel. Some people prefer this method, but I have always found Booking.com to be more expensive than Agoda.
If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined. However, you will normally find that Agoda is the cheapest and therefore you can save yourself time and money by just booking through Agoda in the first place.
Images of Thailand