How To protect Against Malaria When Travelling Abroad

How To protect Against Malaria When Travelling Abroad

Wherever you travel this year you can never be far from the sort of biting, stinging insects that ruin a good holiday. There are even mosquitos in Britain due to higher temperatures, but luckily so far none of the Malaria carrying kind. If you’re venturing further afield you would do well to seek expert advice from one of our friendly Pharmacists so we thought this blog might be helpful too.

MosquitoMalaria is a very serious disease, but one that we can treat and take steps to lower the risk of catching. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito which passes the malaria parasite (Plasmodium Falciparum) into the bloodstream.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, chills, and nausea, but can take weeks and even months to appear. Nothing is 100% effective but with expert advice from your Doctor or Pharmacist you can greatly reduce your chances of contracting the disease, even if bitten.

While making your travel plans it’s worthwhile doing some health research on the areas that you will be travelling through. We recommend the NHS Fit for Travel Website.

If you discover that you are travelling to an area with Malaria then there is a set procedure to go through to get your antimalarial medication. If you see a Doctor Malaria protection is not normally available on NHS prescription. However, there are exceptions based on certain underlying health conditions in which case the standard £8.20 prescription charge per item is applicable. Unless you also qualify for free NHS prescriptions. Otherwise, a Doctor can make a private prescription which normally costs £15 plus the cost of the medicine.

Malaria PGD form exampleThe cheaper alternative is to ask your pharmacist who will use a “Patient Group Direction Form (PGD)” which contains questions designed to determine which anti-malarial treatment would suit you best. The form costs £12.50 at Boswells. Other pharmacies normally charge between £12.50 and £15.

Please note that if you consult a Nurse or Doctor and they recommend a type of medication without a prvate prescription the PGD is still required.

Here at Boswells of Oxford we provide a private consultation room where you can discuss your travel needs with the Pharmacist in comfort and in confidence. This is available Mon – Sat after 10.30am. Appointments are not necessary although we recommend avoiding lunchtimes.

Jungle FormulaA consultation will include checking your travel location, medical history, age and other circumstances in order to recommend and supply anti-malarial and other travel medicines without the need for that private prescription. A minority of people may still need one of the few types of medication that is prescription only. They would then still need to see a Doctor for a private prescription. However we cannot tell this without going through the PGD.

It is worth noting that the medication is tailored to your specific requirements for your specific current plans. It is not applicable to someone else, even if they are making the same trip.  Any antimalarial you may have taken in the past may not be correct for your current trip. Malaria warnings change frequently, often with the season so we can’t make a recommendation more than 6-8 weeks prior to travel.

Once you have your medication it is VERY important that the full course is completed. This includes before you travel to the malaria risk area and for some time after you have left the area. Therefore the cost of your medication will depend not just on the type of medicine but on how many tablets you need.

Don’t think that just because you have the tablets you don’t need to worry about being bitten. There are sensible preventative measures that you can take to lower your risk. Wearing long sleeves and long trousers after sunset outdoors may be a buzz kill, but better than a buzz bite. Applying insect repellent with a high percentage of DEET regularly on exposed skin is advisable. We have a range of the popular Jungle Formula products and alternatives in our Pharmacy Department.

Those people who prefer to use a more natural product, such as citronella to repel insects, will find Quit Bugging Me Lotion Spray in our cosmetics department. This hydrating lotion helps keep mosquitoes, gnats, horseflies, black and biting flies at bay.

There is little hard scientific evidence that changes to your diet will deter insects from tasting your blood, so we certainly don't recommend relying on this.

Anthisan CreamIf bitten then immediate treatment is recommended. An Anthisan Bite & Sting cream is a traditional treatment, but whether using a cream or not it is important to clean the wound with clean water or even better an antiseptic wipe or spray. Scratching the bite may be tempting, but that raises the possibility of infection.  Keep an eye out for signs of infection which can include increased redness and swelling with pain and perhaps blistering or pus at the bite site. If the bite doesn’t improve after treatment or you see infections signs see a Doctor. Your hotel can often help locate a Doctor for you.

Knowing what weather to expect will aid your packing. Knowing which vaccines/medicines you will need will keep you healthy. As will understanding what protection ’s important to the locals.

Don’t forget the sunscreen, take pictures and leave only memories. Enjoy your travels.

Posted by Rosie Hetherington
14th July 2015

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