Malaria is one of the life-threatening diseases that can be acquired by international travelers; particularly children, mainly if they do not receive chemoprophylaxis. Children under the age of five (5) are one of the most susceptible groups affected.
Children, because their immunity levels are not very well developed, can in a very short time after mosquito bites and develop a very high load of the plasmodium parasite making them more susceptible to the various serious complications that are associated with malaria. They could develop seizures, develop shock, fall into a coma and in very severe cases, die.
Early symptoms of malaria in children are subtle and may look like the other common causes of fever in children, so a high index of suspicion is required to avoid wrong or late diagnosis and treatment.
Chemoprophylaxis for children is very different from the regimen for adults. The medications, dosage, mode of intake and side effects are not the same as for adults. Some are age-restrictive. Dosing is calculated based on body weight.
Medications are the same for children and adults in some cases however caution should be applied as there are side effects such as teeth staining. There is inadequate the safety and efficacy of some malarial prophylaxis. Therefore, advice should be taken from a health practitioner to help determine the appropriate regimen.
Any adult traveling with children to malaria-endemic areas should take preventive measures, educate themselves on the signs and symptoms of malaria, and promptly seek medical attention once they develop.
ABCD of Malarial Prevention
- Awareness of risk of malaria
- Bite prevention
- Diagnosis and treatment
Here are some prevention tips:
- Children should sleep in rooms with air-cooling system or with screened windows or sleep under insecticide treated nets, when available.
- Mosquito netting should be used over infant carriers.
- Children should wear long pants and long sleeves while outdoors in areas where malaria is transmitted to reduce skin exposed to mosquitoes.
- Clothing and mosquito nets can be preserved with insect repellents such as permethrin, a repellent and insecticide that repels and kills ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects.
Using these ABCDs of malaria prevention, our prevention scheme involves:
- Provision of insecticides
- Education aids on malaria prevention
- Supply of prophylaxis in dosset boxes
- Mandatory random blood tests to detect malaria
- Provision of antimalarial drugs
- Boost of drug adherence
Sources: CDC’s Traveller’s Health,
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