Malaria is a tropical disease spread by a female mosquito carrying the Plasmodium parasite. It is a serious condition which may result in brain damage or death. Antimalarial medicines prevent the onset of the disease because there is no vaccine. Taking medication before during and after your holiday reduces your chances of infection.
High-risk areas include; Africa and Asia, Central and South America, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, parts of the Middle East and some Pacific islands. Countries with good medical services control the spread of malaria. However, countries with a weak health system risk an epidemic. located in South America Venezuela has an increasing malaria problem.
The increased cases of Malaria is a consequence of Venezuela’s flailing economy. Poverty and people moving to high-risk areas to work spread the disease. Malaria is not a new problem as the waterways and terrain are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes to thrive. Venezuela needs to focus on reducing the Malaria crisis.
What Is Malaria?
Malaria is a serious disease spread by the female mosquito who passes on the Plasmodium parasite through biting. People become very ill with malaria which causes brain damage and death. Symptoms include; sweating, chills, fever, headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea and muscle pains. There is no vaccine, therefore, prevention is very important.
Treatment includes antimalarials which are mainly antibiotics because they are cheaper to produce. Side effects from old antimalarials often put people off using them. New drugs hardly have side effects and there is a variety available so you can choose the best to suit you. The course of treatment starts before you travel and continues until a few weeks after your return.
Ways to avoid being bitten include; wearing loose clothing with sleeves and cuffs, applying insect repellent, sleeping under a mosquito net, closing windows and using citronella candles. Avoid warm damp areas where mosquitoes thrive.
Why Is It Spreading In Venezuela?
Venezuela is a fascinating Spanish speaking country on the north coast of South America. It is a beautiful country on the Caribbean coast with the Andes and Sierra National Park nearby. Rising crime rates, a floundering economy and political unrest make it the cheapest and most dangerous holiday destination. Most areas of the country are off limits to travellers who must remain vigilant wherever they go. (Source: Lonely Planet)
Political unrest is affecting the economy and health of the nation in a number of ways including; Hyperinflation which has plunged the country into poverty. This makes it difficult for people to access basic provisions. High safety risks prevent a huge abundance of tourists from boosting the economy. People have to move to where mining work is available putting them at risk of contracting malaria. A fractured health system puts everyone at risk of infection.
In 2015 Venezuela reported 30% of the cases of malaria in the whole of the Americas. José Félix Oletta (a doctor and former health minister) estimated that over half a million Venezuelans will contract malaria in 2017. Mosquitos and malaria have always been a problem in Venezuela due to the perfect breeding environment. Drastic action using DDT (a now-banned pesticide) in the 40’s and 60’s resulted in eradicating the majority of mosquitos and reducing related deaths. (Source: The Economist).
What Is Being Done About It?
As a consequence of the malaria outbreak, UNICEF has donated antimalarial medication to the government to help treat the children. Brazil is particularly concerned because it has borders with Venezuela. The problem will not be solved until the Venezuelan prime minister appoints a health minister and solves the economic crisis.
According to The Lonely Planet, Backpackers and travellers who want to have a cheap holiday can venture into Venezuela. Just watch out for mosquitos, mugging and political unrest.