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. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I tend to use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. I generally find Agoda hotel rates to be the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people.
Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.
If you wish to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined.
Images of Thailand