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Planning Retirement Online

New reports show
malaria treatment fails

February 2017

woman in bed with fever

Travel is fun and for modern day retirees and those on part time work, travel to more distant parts of the world is becoming more and more commonplace.

But of course with travel there can be risks, and malaria is definitely one of them. This dreadful disease occurs in over 100 countries around the world and while Africa and parts of Asia offer the highest risk, other popular tourist areas include parts of the Caribbean, Middle East and even the Pacific.

It is without doubt one of the most devastating infectious diseases with around 429,000 deaths a year, a lot of these in Africa.

Visitors to malarial regions from the UK are advised to take anti malarial medication and use insect repellents as key preventative measures but even so malaria is still prevalent. In 2015, the last year Laterlife could find with confirmed figures, there were 1,400 cases of malaria here in the UK from people who had returned to this country from overseas. Treatment was of course given – usually through a combination drug of artemether-lumefantrine - and thankfully only six deaths were reported.

mosquitoBut this outcome may soon start deteriorating fast. A team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reports this week that a key malarial treatment has failed for the first time for four UK patients who contracted the disease in Africa but then returned here between October 2015 and February 2016.
The team say this is an early sign that the malaria parasites are evolving resistance to the front-line drugs used to combat the disease.

The London team are not alone in their concern. Worldwide Ant-Malarial Resistance NetworkAccording to the Worldwide Anti-Malarial Resistance Network, while the artemisinin combination therapies are currently the frontline treatment, there is serious concern that malaria parasites are developing widespread resistance to this vital treatment. Unusual genetic structures of malaria parasites in regions known for antimalarial drug resistance have been identified

The recent occurrence of Zika virus which is also carried by mosquitos has helped to intensify research and medication in this area and scientists across the world are now looking vigorously at ways to eliminate mosquitoes. They are also looking at genetically modifying mosquitoes so that they stop transmitting these deadly diseases.

But in the meantime the mosquitoes seem to be adapting faster than we can adapt the medication needed to counteract the diseases they carry.

So if you are planning a trip overseas this year to one of the countries where malaria exists, it is probably more important than ever to check with your medical advisors on the best way to minimise the risk of being bitten by these life threatening malarial carrying mosquitoes.

 

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