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All Posts Tagged: malaria

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Super Malaria: What You Should Know

‘Super Malaria’: What You Should Know

Recent news reports about ‘super malaria’ are on the minds of many travelers. What exactly is ‘super malaria’ and to what extent should travelers be concerned about it?

Q: What is ‘super malaria’?

A: Super malaria’ is a term coined by the media that refers to resistance strains of malaria which have emerged in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS): Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Southern Vietnam.  There is no medical or scientific term called ‘super malaria.’

Q: Is ‘super malaria’ new?

A: No, it is not new. The public health and scientific communities have known about it since 2008.  However, based on recently published reports from the region, it is gaining a much larger footprint in Southeast Asia, which has everyone alarmed.

Q: What is malaria resistance?

A: Malaria resistance refers to strains of the parasite which seem resistant to the most commonly and effectively used treatments for malaria.  For many years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended a two-drug therapy for simple infections caused by malaria — medications commonly referred to Artemisinin Combination Therapy (ACT).  ‘Super malaria’ thus refers to cases in the GMS which are showing resistance to ACTs, something that seems to be more common and growing at an alarming rate.

Q: Is malaria resistance new?

A: No, malaria resistance is not new.  In fact, malaria resistance has been around ever since we’ve figured out how to treat malaria, but we have always been able to develop newer medications or combinations of medicines to combat the resistant infections.

Q: Can ‘super malaria’ be treated?

A: Yes, ‘super malaria’ can be treated.  Health facilities in the region have already begun using a different combination of ACTs, ones that include mefloquine.  Mefloquine is a commonly prescribed malaria prophylactic for people traveling into malaria regions, particularly by US travelers prescribed by US physicians.

Q: What should I do if I plan on traveling to this region?

A: The simple answer is to continue to do all the things travelers should do when traveling into areas where there’s malaria:

  • Use strong insect repellants
  • Be sure to cover your arms and legs to prevent mosquito bites (particularly at sunrise and sunset)
  • Sleep under mosquito nets when they’re available or bring them with you
  • Try to keep windows and doors closed at night when sleeping to prevent mosquitoes from entering your room
  • Check with your doctor to see if you should be taking preventive medications prior to traveling. They’re readily available.

Q: Is there anything else I should do?

A: Yes, you need to be aware of ‘super malaria’ if you’re traveling into a region where it’s known to occur: Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.  For the best updated information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or WHO websites for country-specific information on places you plan to travel.

Also, travelers going to malaria regions should consider picking up Rapid Diagnostic Tests (RDTs) and treatment medications from the local pharmacies when you arrive in country.  RDTs can be used by you to test yourself or a travel companion with a simple pin prick if you’re worried about malaria. They can also be used when returning home if you develop any symptoms for malaria: fever, headache, body aches, flu-like symptoms, nausea and vomiting.  Remember, it usually takes some time between being bitten by a mosquito carrying malaria until you develop signs and symptoms of the infection.  Picking up medications can also be helpful, as often times these treatment medications are not readily available in the United States.

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4 Malaria Prevention Tips From HealthSmartVaccines in Chantilly, VA

HealthSmartVaccines in Chantilly, VA, has been committed to keeping their community vaccinated and well informed since 1992. Over the last 23 years, HealthSmartVaccines has helped thousands of patients with vaccinations, immunizations, and flu shots & clinics. They are also a leading source for educating travelers on malaria prevention. Here are four tips from the expert team at HealthSmartVaccines for preventing malaria:

Awareness: Malaria is a severe infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Many travelers are infected every year, but most cases are preventable. The very first step is awareness. Before you embark on an exciting international journey, do your research and find out if there is any risk of contracting malaria while you visit.

Avoidance: If you have determined your destination is a high-risk area for malaria, stock up on supplies. Buy plenty of insect repellent that contains at least 20% DEET. Invest in sleep netting so you’re protected overnight, and pack clothes that will protect your skin from exposure. Shorts and tank tops might seem weather appropriate, but long pants and long sleeves will offer much better protection.

Vaccines: There are various antimalarial drugs and vaccines on the market. The right vaccine for you depends on the country you’ll be visiting and your personal concerns with the frequency of dosing and potential side effects. It’s best to consult with HealthSmartVaccines to find what’s right for your needs.
Post-travel Check: Upon your return, be aware of any malaria symptoms. If you’re experiencing fever, respiratory illness, rash, or diarrhea, contact your healthcare provider right away and inform them of your recent travels.

If you live near Chantilly, Virginia and you’re looking for travel vaccines, call HealthSmartVaccines today at (703) 961-0733.

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Malaria Prevention

Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, just as Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever are, and it is considered one of the most severe infectious diseases that travelers could encounter. Likely, most cases of Malaria are preventable! The best methods of prevention are awareness of risk, avoidance of mosquito bits, and chemoprophylaxis (antimalarial medication).

Awareness: Research the area that you will be visiting and determine if there is a risk of contracting malaria. This can be done by visiting the CDCs website or by calling a travel health clinic.

Avoidance: Once you determine that malaria is present in the country you are traveling to then it is time to do some shopping. The best methods of prevention are insect repellents.

– Wear protective clothing (Make sure you cover as must body surface area as possible to reduce exposed skin.)

– Apply insect repellents as directed by the manufacturer (The best insect repellent is one that contains 20%-50% DEET. Other active ingredients that are recommended are Picaridin and Lemon Eucalyptus.).

– Sleep in areas protected by screens and netting. Netting impregnated with a residual insecticide provide the best protection.

Chemoprophylaxis: There are many options when it comes to antimalarial drugs, determining which one will work best for you is dependent on two things: what country you are visiting and your concern with frequency of dosing and potential side effects. The best  way to determine what will work best for you is by contacting a travel health clinic.

If upon return (up to one year after traveling) from your trip you are experiencing any signs and symptoms of illness (example: fever, diarrhea, respiratory illness or rash) please be sure to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. It is important to inform your provider of your recent travels to aid them in determining the cause of your symptoms.

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Travel Tips

We want your trip to be the best yet. Here are some travel tips we’ve gathered over the years.

  • Get vaccinated at least ONE month prior to travel. Depending on the vaccine, it may take your immune system 2 or 3 weeks to achieve maximum immunity.
  • Carry first aid supplies and all medications in your carry on luggage, not your checked baggage.
  • Contact your health insurance plan and determine health coverage outside the United States. Most policies do not cover international travel.
  • Purchase travel and evacuation insurance. Medical evacuation may cost in excess of $5,000 and difficult to arrange. Evacuation insurers have the resourses to manage the process for you.
  • Be prepared to self manage travelers diarrhea by packing the medications to relieve this distressing event. Consult with your travel health professional or family physician for a recommended list of medications.
  • If traveling to a malaria zone, carry insect repellent, protective clothing and sleep under mosquitoe netting. Consultant with your travel health professional or physician about use of an antimalarial.
  • At this time malaria is NOT a vaccine preventable infection. Avoid contact with animals, especially in rural areas.

 

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