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Expat Investor : May June 2008
HEALTHCARE Fast Facts 55410 The worst sting of all In this regular column on medical conditions, Torben Staehr, Medical Director, BUPA Copenhagen, explains malaria. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 40% of the world’s population, mostly those living in the poorest countries, are at risk of malaria. Of these 2.5 billion people at risk, more than 500 million become severely ill with malaria every year and more than 1 million die from the effects of the disease. Malaria is a disease that can be transmitted to people of all ages but it is both preventable and curable. It is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is transmitted via the bites of infected mosquitoes. vaccination requirements, ideally at least eight weeks before you travel. By taking other precautions to reduce the chances of getting bitten, for example applying insect repellent (ideally up to 50% DEET) to any exposed skin and sleeping under a mosquito net will give added protection. It is important to remember that anti-malarials should be taken after a traveller returns home. The malaria parasite can remain in the body and reproduce rapidly, which potentially leaves a traveller exposed to malaria even when they are back from their trip. recommends that you receive the following inoculations: ? Typhoid – 10 days before. ? Hepatitis A – two weeks before. ? Diphtheria – three months before. ? Tuberculosis – three months before. When the parasite enters the human body, they multiply in the liver, and then infect red blood cells. If malaria is not treated, it can disrupt the blood supply to vital organs and quickly becomes a life- threatening disease. A fever, headache, and vomiting are the most well-known symptoms of the disease and usually appear between 10 and 15 days after the mosquito bite. Before going to malaria risk countries, travellers should seek advice from their GP, practice nurse, pharmacist or travel clinic to discuss anti-malarial and Fast Facts 55411 18 EXPAT INVESTOR ? May/June 2008 Continued from page 17 Health issues in Hong Kong ? Hepatitis B – two months before. All travellers are also advised to ensure that tetanus and polio vaccinations are kept up to date. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office states, “Every year several cases of dengue fever are reported in Hong Kong. The numbers are small in comparison to the total population and outbreaks have been localised. “You are recommended to take precautions against mosquito bites.” Finally, as with all countries that require you have vaccinations, requirements may vary from time to time. In light of this, you will need to check with your doctor well in advance of your departure date. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are the basic elements of malaria control. Effective treatment will shorten the duration of malaria and prevent the development of any complications that could result in death from the disease. Most cases and deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa. However, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Europe are also affected. Travellers from malaria-free regions going to areas where there is malaria transmission are highly vulnerable – they have little or no immunity and are often exposed to delayed or wrong malaria diagnosis when returning to their home country. It is important that returning travellers who are suffering from any flu-like symptoms, notify their GP that they have been visiting a country that is at risk to ensure a correct diagnosis. Malaria is especially a serious problem in Africa, where one in every five (20%) childhood deaths is due to the effects of the disease. Shockingly every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria. expatinvestor.com
July August 2008