Malaria danger: Why you need to keep taking the tablets

by hellomagazine.com She's just finished filming the phenomenally successful BBC series, Springwatch, exploring the reality behind Britain’s wildlife. But it was filming in Africa that taught presenter Kate Humble just how precarious life up-close to Mother Nature can be, when she caught malaria – twice.

Kate knew Africa was a malaria risk, but having travelled across Africa for a year as a teenager unprotected and without any ill effects, felt invincible. "Clearly I'd had a lucky break, but the result was that I thought I was immortal," she tells us. "And I continued to travel like that, without advice," she adds.

As a result, Kate contracted malaria on a week-long trip to Zanzibar in 2001 and then again in Ghana two years later when she was told the area in which she was working was too remote and dry for there to be many mosquitoes.

"I felt cold from my very core, as if I’d never feel warm again," Kate explains. "I woke up the next day stiff and unable to get out of bed, like all the energy had been drained out of me in the night."

The disease kills a million people a year worldwide, with about ten dying in the UK from around 1500 who bring the disease back from a trip abroad. And here’s how you can avoid it on your summer hols…

* Malaria-prone regions change seasonally as well as from year to year and malaria parasites can develop resistance to drugs so it is vital to get up-to-date advice each time you travel.
* If you’re advised to take anti-malaria medication, don't miss any of your course, even when you come back – it could mean you're not protected.
* "Even though medication reduces the risk of contracting malaria, it does not eliminate it altogether," says Dr Nick Beeching of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. "You can reduce your risk by staying in an air conditioned room, making sure windows are closed, using impregnated bed nets and personal insect repellents."
* "Wear appropriate clothing – long sleeved tops and trousers so there’s less flesh for the bugs to bite, especially at the highest risk times between dusk and dawn," Dr Beeching advises.
* Don't dismiss fever with aches and pains as flu for up to two years after you return from a potentially high-risk area, Dr Beeching warns. And make sure your doctor knows you've been abroad.
* If you display symptoms abroad, don't wait to get home to get help. Malaria can kill within 24-to-48 hours.
* Don’t assume any in-built resistance: British residents returning to countries of origin make up most of the statistics.

For more information, visit http://www.malariahotspots.com or www.nathnac.org. You can also access online prescriptions and delivery at http://www.lloydspharmacy.com/doctor