Malaria?… Yellow Fever?… What are they?

May 29, 2010

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malaria_yellowfever1You’ve probably heard about malaria and yellow fever in Africa, but for many people, that is as far as their knowledge about these diseases goes.  Since both of these diseases are prevalent in Africa, we thought we’d give you a little more information.

Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transmitted from one human to another by the bite of infected mosquitoes.  The parasites travels through the bloodstream to the liver where they start to multiply within red blood cells of the human host.

The symptoms characteristic of malaria include flu-like illness with fever, chills, muscle aches, headache and sweating.malaria_yellowfever2 The first symptoms usually occur 10 days to 4 weeks after infection.

Avoiding malaria while traveling in infected regions is fairly simple.  There are a number of different pills your doctor can prescribe to prevent malaria, the most frequently used is called malarone.  Also, be sure to always use bug repellent, the more deet the better, and try to cover up during prime mosquito feeding times around dusk and dawn.  When necessary, all of your lodges will provide a net under which you can sleep.  If you do this, chances are you will return home malaria free!

Yellow fever, like malaria, is spread by mosquitoes.  It is a virus that is transported around the body and can reproduce itself in a variety of the body’s cells – usually the liver, kidneys and blood vessels. If a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms usually develop 3 – 6 days later.

During the first of three possible stages of the virus, headache, muscle and joint aches, fever, flushing, loss of appetite, vomiting, and jaundice are common.

malaria_yellowfever3Yellow fever can be prevented by vaccination. Travelers should also take basic precautions against mosquito bites when in affected areas, whether they have received the vaccination or not.  These are the same measures taken to prevent malaria including using bug repellent and covering exposed skin.

Please consult with your physician (and regarding these diseases and the appropriate medication and precautions you should take.  The requirements vary depending on the countries you are traveling to and from.

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