Cases of malaria increase by 30 per cent

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Written By:Abbie Smith New figures from theHealth Protection Agency (HPA)have shown that cases of malaria have increased by 30 per cent in the last two...

Written By: Abbie Smith

New figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) have shown that cases of malaria have increased by 30 per cent in the last two years.

There were 1,761 cases of malaria reported in the UK during 2010, up on 1,495 cases in 2009 and 1,370 in 2008.

The HPA released the figures to mark World Malaria Day and is now urging travellers to take anti-malaria medication if they are planning on travelling to a high-risk area.

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Malaria is the world’s second biggest killer and over the past decade the most infections have developed in people that have visited South Asia or West Africa.

The HPA found that four in 10 sufferers had been to either Nigeria or Ghana, while 11 per cent had travelled to India.

A tropical disease, Malaria is most commonly spread by mosquitoes that are infected with the malaria parasite and there are currently no vaccinations against it.

If bitten by an infected mosquito, the parasite is injected into a person’s bloodstream. Symptoms of malaria include high temperature, fever, headache and muscle pains. They can show eight days after being bitten, but the disease can stay inactive in the body for up to a year afterwards.

The HPA looked at 997 cases of malaria where there was information available and found that 85 per cent of people had not taken anti-malaria tablets.

They believe this is because people knew the area they were travelling to and therefore didn’t think they were at risk.

The HPA also think that rather than staying in hotels, these travellers may have stayed with family and friends and as a result were exposed to the same greater risk as the locals.

Professor Peter Chiodini, who heads the HPA's malaria reference laboratory, said: “Anyone who is travelling to a country where malaria is present should take travel advice and appropriate medication.”

“Even people living in Britain visiting the country in which they were born or grew up, or have previously visited, are not immune from malaria and should take precautions.”

Malaria has received a lot of coverage in the press recently after celebrities like Cheryl Cole andGeorge Clooney both contracted the disease.

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