Christmas Travellers Are Warned Of Malaria Risks

November 26, 1998

Malaria at Christmas: risks of prophylaxis versus risks of malaria

People planning to travel to malarial areas during their Christmas break are warned in this week's BMJ to seek expert advice now on which malaria drugs are most effective for the region they are visiting, and to ensure that they comply with this advice.

In their paper, Dr Andrew Reid and colleagues from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London report that there was an increase in the number of cases of severe malaria in the UK at the beginning of this year. On investigating these severe cases, they found that 76 per cent of patients had taken inadequate doses of prophylactic drugs or none at all. The cost to the NHS for treating these patients in intensive care facilities was 160,000 (19 patients).

The authors conclude that the decision travellers make about antimalaria drugs is often based on 'folklore' rather than on sound medical advice. They advise that those planning to holiday in malarial areas this Christmas should seek guidance on the pros and cons of the prophylactic regimens available from informed professionals only.

Contact:

Professor David Mabey, Professor in Communicable Diseases, Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London email:d.mabey@lshtm.ac.uk
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BMJ

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