The common misconception is that if malaria is present in your country of origin, you will have immunity to the disease for life. This is a dangerous myth. The truth is that any natural immunity begins to fade within six months of leaving your home country.
Brentford, Middlesex (PRWEB) May 15, 2008
Thousands of UK residents could be exposing themselves to the potentially deadly disease, malaria, a new survey reveals today. The survey, released ahead of Malaria Awareness Week (May 12-18), found that 50% of people who return to visit friends and family in a malarious country, wrongly believe they have natural immunity to the disease.
The research also found that over half of those surveyed value the pre-travel health advice of family and friends over a qualified healthcare professional - a troubling statistic that could be putting many ethnic travellers in danger.
Every year, between 1,500 and 2,000 UK travellers return from overseas trips with malaria, making Britain one of the largest importers of the disease amongst all industrialised countries3. On average there are nine annual deaths. Travellers visiting friends and relatives in malarial regions account for 60% of these cases. Producer of Indian films Nitin Kapoor is just one example, having contracted malaria in this way when visiting his relatives in India. His real-life experiences can be found at http://www.malariahotspots.co.uk/beenThere_vid6.asp.
Foreign news correspondent and Malaria Awareness Campaign ambassador, Rageh Omaar, says, "The common misconception is that if malaria is present in your country of origin, you will have immunity to the disease for life. This is a dangerous myth. The truth is that any natural immunity begins to fade within six months of leaving your home country."
Omaar continues, "The fact that people are choosing to take health advice from family and friends rather than that of a qualified doctor or practice nurse may have created a false sense of security about malaria that has been passed down through many generations."
If you have a friend or family member travelling to a malaria hotspot, you can inform them about some of the risks of contracting malaria while travelling abroad, and why they should seek qualified medical advice, by using the online form at http://www.malariahotspots.co.uk.
Dr George Kassianos, GP and founding member of the UK Malaria Guidelines Committee, says, "Malaria is not a trivial disease. All travellers visiting friends and family in malarial zones should visit their GP, travel clinic or practice nurse at least six weeks before travelling to get the best advice for them."
"Malaria risk destinations change over time so it is essential to speak to a qualified healthcare professional who can tell you exactly what precautions are needed, ahead of every trip," he adds.
Malaria Awareness Week runs from May 12-18, 2008. To find out if the country you're visiting has a malaria risk, text 07800 000 571 or visit the malaria map at http://www.malariahotspots.co.uk.
The Malaria Awareness Campaign is calling on anyone who has ever suffered from this potentially fatal disease to share their story and help make malaria history in the UK. For more information about the campaign or to share your experience, please contact Lisa Bronstein on behalf of the Malaria Awareness Campaign: call 020-7053-6003 or email lisa.bronstein @ beattiegroup.com.