Remember that time Cheryl came down with malaria on the X Factor? It just goes to show malaria is alive and kicking; even though you may think it only happens in the jungle or the wild African savannah. Make sure you know about malaria before you book your holiday. I'm going to tell you about it now - please pay attention because this could save your life. I'm not even kidding.
It's a parasite that gets into your blood stream through mosquito bites. Only the female mosquito transmits the disease. In 2013, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stopped predicting a global swine-flu death pandemic and estimated that 198 million cases of malaria occur worldwide. 198 MILLION. That's really shocking.
You must check your destination to find out if it's affected by malaria. There are 97 countries dealing with it, which is far too many to list here, but it's prevalent in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most dangerous spot. Malaria is a constant high-risk problem there. Check the WHO website for an up-to-date list.
Everyone is at risk but some travellers are particularly vulnerable to malaria complications. This includes young children, pregnant women and folk with weakened immune systems. Think twice about travelling to malaria risk areas if you fall into one of these groups.
Malaria symptoms are much like the flu. Unless the traveller declares they have been abroad, a malaria diagnosis is not easy to uncover. Prompt treatment is necessary because after the flu symptoms patients can develop severe complications. Here are the main symptoms. Not everyone will experience them all:
It can take 7-30 days for malaria symptoms to show up, and it's even longer for a certain type of malaria called P. vivax. P. vivax can show up a year after you've been infected.
Most malaria cases are found in people who have visited friends and family. People who are more relaxed about their trip than intrepid gap-year students and Amazon trekkers who have taken the anti-malaria medication. But your mum can't stop you getting malaria no matter how much she fusses over you.
Not many Brits get malaria, but you should be prepared and protect yourself. Malaria is declining on a global scale but it's still a serious illness that can be fatal.