Malaria and Travelling
RETURNING travellers and refugees from malaria-endemic countries can now receive subsidised medical treatment with a cure rate of 96 per cent. Riamet (artemether 20mg with lumefantrine 120mg), now listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), combines two anti-malarials to treat acute, uncomplicated malaria caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum. PBS listing will allow those who are not ill enough to warrant hospitalisation, to be effectively managed in the community.
While the World Health Organisation (WHO) certified Australia as free of malaria, approximately half of the 600 to 700 cases of malaria reported each year in Australia are due to Plasmodium falciparum brought in from malaria-endemic countries. Riamet tablets, which are indicated for patients 12 years and older weighing at least 35 kilograms.
Registration and reimbursement of a dispersible tablet for infants and children weighing at least 5 kilograms has recently been approved, with PBS listing expected later this year.
If you are not sure, ask your Pharmacist about this medication.
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a serious disease caused by a parasite that infects red blood cells. Anyone can get Malaria if they are bitten by an infected mosquito in a region where Malaria occurs. Symptoms include fever, chills, sweating and headache. Even if you are taking Malaria medication you still need to take extra precautions against Malaria, including:
Use insect repellent at regular intervals
Use mosquio nets (you can buy trave nets impregnated with repellent)
Cover arms, legs and ankles with clothing when outdoors, especially after sunset
What can be done to protect myself from Malaria whilst travelling?
- Mosquito nets preferably impregnated with permethrin-emulsifiable concentrate. Permethrin is an insecticide but not a repellent; is safe, colourless, odourless; is stable; adheres well to fabric; survives 5-10 washing's in hot or cold water; but is not recommended for skin application.
- Avoidance of night time outside activities.
- Avoid dark coloured clothing as it attracts mosquitoes as do perfume, cologne & after-shave.
- Clothing to cover arms and legs in the evenings. NB. It is common for mosquitoes to attack leg/ankle region.
- Use of an insecticide aerosol in the room to kill mosquitoes before retiring. (Knock Down sprays)
- Use of mosquito coils or vaporising mat containing a pyrethrin.
- Use of mosquito repellents. The most effective mosquito repellent is (DEET). "Look for commercial preparations containing DEET. Roll-on preparations are recommended as spray cans may explode in luggage compartments. It is effective for 3 to 4 hours when applied to clothing or skin. It needs to be spread evenly and completely over all exposed skin. Untreated travellers in proximity to treated ones are more apt to be bitten.
- DEET is absorbed through the skin. Preparations containing less than 50% DEET are almost free of side effects when applied to the skin of adults. In children the repeated, extensive inappropriate application of as low as 20% DEET has lead to staggers, agitation, tremors, slurred speech, convulsions and death.
- DEET repellents should be kept well away from plastics, including cameras, as it will dissolve them.
- In addition MASTA (Medical Advisory Service for Travellers Abroad) can provide a large range of travel equipment including impregnated mosquito nets, wrist and ankle insect repellent bands (mosi-guards). These products can be obtained through some chemists
Where are the Malaria Risk Areas?
|Very Low||Low to Moderate||Moderate to High||Relative risk of acquiring Malaria|
|Algeria||Bangladesh||Arica West||Papual New Guinea||1:140|
|Hong Kong||Central America||Kampuchea||India||1:1450|
|Mauritius||Columbia||Sabah||Other Asia Countries||1:50,000|
|United Arab Emirates||North West Malaysia|
For further information, don't forget to ask your Pharmacist about Malaria.