Malaria kills up to 655,000 people every year, 90% of those are in 3rd world counties. What most people don’t know is that the other 10% are spread out around the world and you can even find some of those come from right here in the Uk. Living in the UK we are lucky, we have the knowledge, Doctors and medication to fight malaria, but does everyone know what to look for?
Everyone gets itchy annoying bits on holiday that just won’t go away when they get home and in January 2009 I was no different. After coming back from the Dominican Republic a tiny mosquito bit on my ankle would just not go away. After being ill on holiday and getting worse after I got home malaria was the last thing on my mind when I went to the doctors as I had taken every the recommended tables for that area and followed the instructions to the letter! Three weeks later, barely eating and after only getting worse with two trips to the emergency out of hours doctors at Barnsley General Hospital. The doctors were left with no option but to admit me.
Late on a Saturday night and with a mix of pain killers, anti sickness tables, other drugs I can’t remember in my system left me very drowsy. When the disease specialist turned up! The next five days were spend on drips in isolation with nurses waking me up every four hours to check my body temperature and taking blood three times a day. One of the biggest signs of malaria after the flu like symptoms is the fluctuation in fever.
The signs of malaria can show up within 10 days of an infected bit and can hide in the blood in extreme cases for up to a year. In cases like mine doctors have to trust the symptoms they see and hope that the blood test reflect. I still have the bite on my ankle and the Doctor thinks it might never go but I’ll have that over the other options any day. Anyone can catch malaria and we are lucky to know that in the Uk if identified then you have a very very high chance of surviving. But don’t take the risk!
Next time you go on holiday follow ABCD:
Awareness – Check the risk, weather, climate and location.
Bite prevention – At the every least you will stop yourself getting itchy bites!
Chemoprophylaxis (anti malaria drugs) – take them and as they are recommended, where possible get an injection.
Diagnosis – know what to look for and at the fist signs of illness check with a doctor, this can be upto a year after you return home.
Then think about the people in areas that don’t have the medial access that we do. Charities like Nothing But Nets are helping to try and defeat malaria. Why not leave the countries we visit in a better way, even if it is only tiny difference? By leaving/donating a bed net that cost nothing in comparison to the trips we take, to the effected countries we visit, we might just be able to give them the same chances we haves!
JCI Barnsley 2013 President
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Soraya Bowen