What do George Clooney, King Tut, Mother Theresa and JFK have in common?

Malaria. A potentially fatal illness so named by the Italians for bad “mal” air “aria” thought to be caused by the marsh airs. It is actually caused by a parasite spread when the female anopheles mosquito bites someone who has malaria and then goes on to bite someone who doesn’t. In colonial times we had summer outbreaks in Washington DC, Philadelphia and Boston. Malaria was controlled in the US by clearing the swamps and by mosquito eradication. But it still exisits in many places in the world and unsuspecting travelers can get exposed. Malaria exists in some places in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America as well as Africa, South East Asia, India, Pakistan and other surprising locales.

If you are traveling outside the US, you can go to CDC web site and look up malaria area maps. If you are traveling to a malaria area protect yourself by avoiding bites between sunset and sunrise covering exposed skin and using 30 % DEET. Talk to your primary care provider or travel clinic about taking pills to help prevent malaria. These need to be started before you leave, and are taken while you travel and for a week or a month after you leave the malaria area.

All it takes is one bite from one mosquito, one time. Protect yourself. For more information go to www.malariahotspots.co.uk.

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