Crew Health Advice: Preventing and reducing malaria transmission

Crew Health Advice: Preventing and reducing malaria transmission

Preventing and reducing malaria transmission

If malaria is diagnosed and treated early, it is usually completely curable. However, if left untreated, it may lead to complications and, potentially, death  

Recently, UK P&I Club Members reported two cases of death and two cases of serious illness (three months in hospital each) due to malaria.These cases arose despite the crew member being on medication to prevent the disease. It was later found that the crew members either did not have the correct medication, for the countries they were travelling to, or they were unsure about the correct dose they should be taking.

What is malaria?

Malaria is a life-threatening disease that is preventable and curable with early diagnosis and treatment. It is not contagious, but it is an infectious disease spread through infected female mosquitos, carrying one of several malaria microorganisms. Most malaria cases take place in sub-Saharan Africa, however, regions such as South-East Asia, Eastern Mediterranean,Western Pacific and the Americas are also at risk.

 “In 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria in 90 countries” and deaths caused by malaria reached 435,000" WHO Malaria Fact Sheet

The dangers If malaria is diagnosed and treated early, it is usually completely curable. However, if left untreated, it may lead to complications and, potentially, death. Some complications that can arise include: kidney failure, liver failure, acute respiratory distress, circulatory collapse, secondary infections and more. The severity of the complications of malaria mean that it is imperative for vessels travelling within, or close to, the endemic regions to carry prophylaxis (preventative treatment).

Signs and symptoms Malaria usually has ‘flu-like’ symptoms, which include:

  • High fever
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Myalgia (muscle pain)
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice

Prevention methods

  • Carrying the correct medication for applicable geographic area on board in adequate quantities
  • Mosquitoes are attracted by light and areas with stagnant water – care should be taken to ensure there is no stagnant water anywhere on a vessel, and that the amount of light is reduced, where safe to do so
  •  Ensure that no crew members sleep on deck
  • Apply insecticides in cabins
  • Use mosquito repellent sprays
  • Avoid exposing skin
  •  Use mosquito nets that have been treated with an effective insecticide (on doors, windows, to sleep under, and over ventilation holes), especially at night

Information obtained from Med Solutions’ Malaria Overview and the World Health Organisation’s Malaria fact sheet.

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