If you are planning to travel to Southeast Asia, you have to be aware of mosquitos and the diseases they may cause. Mosquitos can carry a parasite known as Plasmodium, which causes malaria; a potentially fatal disease. Malaria occurs in tropical and subtropical climates where the parasites can live; it is common across Africa, South and Central America, and Southeast Asia. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 200 million cases of malaria occurred worldwide in 2015, with an estimate of around 400,000 deaths. It is particularly dangerous for children, the elderly, and the infirm.

Infected people can suffer from shaking chills, high fever as high as 40ºC, diarrhea, nausea, convulsions, and coma. Malaria can have life-threatening complications, such as organ failure of the kidneys, liver, or spleen, an accumulation of fluids in the lungs that causes breathing problems, in addition to anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells. It takes about 7–30 days before symptoms appear; malaria is not spread from person to person, but can be spread through blood transfusion and infected injections. Is some rare cases, it can be transmitted from the mother to the unborn baby. Most patients recover completely after receiving treatment.

Since 2008, however, researchers have recorded an increasing rate of malaria treatment failure in many areas in Southeast Asia, indicating a mutated strain of the malaria parasite gaining resistance to anti-malarial drugs. The media called the new emerging strain “Super Malaria”. This new strain is spreading fast through Southeast Asia, emerging in Cambodia, then spreading to parts of Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Researchers fear that it can spread further to Africa, where 92% of all malaria deaths occur.

WHO is aiming to eradicate the disease completely by 2030 before the spread of the new strain and before it becomes untreatable. Until then, if you are travelling to a place where there is a risk of malaria, there are some precautions you have to take. It is advisable to consult your doctor if you can take the anti-malarial drugs in advance as prevention. When you arrive, use a strong insect repellent, make sure your arms and legs are well covered, keep all windows and doors closed, and you can also use a mosquito net when sleeping.


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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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