Last minute holidaymakers not warned about malaria risks

by Alister POOLE on January 19, 2011

Travel websites that provide last minute travel deals to countries with high risks of malaria need to clearly warn travellers, say medical experts.

The call for greater awareness comes after three holidaymakers were struck by the potentially fatal mosquito-born illness after a last minute getaway to The Gambia. The West African country is known for being endemic with malaria. All three travellers booked through the same site.

None of the three holidaymakers were advised to seek medical information before heading to The Gambia.

According to doctors, there are simple precautions that can be taken to prevent the illness including wearing long sleeves and pants and wearing insect repellant. There are also anti-malarial tablets that can be taken to protect against the disease.

All three patients were taken to James Cook University for treatment. Furthermore, all three had falciparum malaria, which is fatal if left untreated.

One attending doctor, John Widdrington reported that a lot of online travel companies, particularly those that offer late rate deals, do not take the precaution of warning travellers heading to areas that are endemic with the disease.

Mr Widdrington added that a number of doctors have written to Abta, the UK body charged with regulating the travel industry, to encourage regulation on policy for online travel websites to warn travellers of the risk.

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