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Effective measures to protect against malaria
Malaria is an infectious disease that mainly occurs in the tropics and subtropics. It is caused by the Plasmodium pathogen, which is transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. Effective protection against malaria is essential when traveling to the tropics, as the disease can be life-threatening.
Malaria can be life-threatening If the unicellular pathogen gets into the human body through the bite of an Anopheles mosquito, fever, chills, headache, nausea and vomiting as well as joint pain can result. The symptoms usually only appear ten to 15 days after the mosquito bite. In addition, neurological impairments such as seizures and paralysis can develop. If left untreated, malaria can be life-threatening. Those affected usually initially suffer from impaired consciousness and then fall into a coma from which they no longer wake up. In general, the disease runs with very different symptoms and forms.
Malaria areas include primarily Africa, Asia and Latin America. If you want to travel to these or other tropical and subtropical countries, you can find out more about the risk of malaria on the website of the German Society for Tropical Medicine.
Professor Thomas Löscher, head of the Infection and Tropical Medicine department at the Ludwig Maximilians University Hospital in Munich, explains to the news agency "dpa" on the occasion of World Malaria Day how travelers can effectively protect themselves against the infectious disease.
To protect against malaria, keep mosquitoes away from the body. Löscher advises that mosquitoes be kept away from the body from the outset. So-called repellents, mosquito repellants, are available, which usually contain the active ingredient DEET. They are applied directly to the skin. The active ingredient icaridin is more suitable for pregnant women and children, explains the expert. Repellents only work for a few hours, so the agent must then be reapplied. Another useful measure to protect against malaria is to impregnate clothing and mosquito nets, which should be used wherever stinging or blood-sucking insects occur and can also transmit other diseases such as dengue fever. The impregnation offers protection for around two to three months, says Löscher.
Medications for malaria profilaxe can have strong side effects. Before you travel to the tropics or subtropics you decide to take preventive medication for malaria, you should first familiarize yourself with the possible side effects. Löscher only recommends taking such medication if the risk of malaria in the target area is higher than the probability of suffering from the rare but severe side effects.
If malaria infection occurs, action should be taken quickly. The patient usually receives a combination preparation based on Artemisinins, in the case of severe illnesses, the medication must be given in the form of infusions. (ag)
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