Britons travelling abroad have been warned to be alert to the signs of Malaria after confirmed cases in UK travellers have risen.
Following Cheryl Cole’s high profile diagnosis last year, people became more aware of the fact that it can happen to anyone, yet many still don’t know what to look out for.
Brits travelling abroad have been warned not to confuse the signs of Malaria with those of the flu, quite difficult as they are very similar. The Malaria Awareness Campaign has discovered that 57% of the 2,254 people they surveyed were unaware of the symptoms, which include sweats and chills, headaches, muscle pain, diarrhoea, high temperature and coughing, so it’s easy to see why they are confused with the common flu.
Dr George Kassianos of the Malaria Awareness Campaign stated “The symptoms of malaria can be almost identical to those of common flu and can be non-specific, making it difficult for healthcare professionals to diagnose malaria early and accurately.” He went on to explain “Malaria can present within the first three months, sometimes soon after return from abroad, but on occasion it can be a year or more from the time the traveller was bitten by an infected mosquito.”
He also stressed that prevention was key to anyone travelling abroad and recommended that they seek travel health advice six to eight weeks before they are due to travel.
According to the Health Protection Agency, malaria cases have risen by almost 30% in the UK during the last 2 years with 1,761 reports of malaria recorded during 2010 compared to 1,495 in 2009 and 1,370 in 2008.
Dr Kassianos also stressed that anyone seeking medical help for flu like symptoms after travelling abroad should offer the information to the healthcare professional and not wait to be asked. He also urged doctors and nurses to consider malaria before dismissing symptoms as flu.