Swine Flu Could Be Deadly Malaria

Monday, 15 February 2010

With the long-haul holiday season in full swing, British travellers are being warned today not to confuse the symptoms of malaria for swine flu.


The warning follows the tragic death of a pilot from Bournemouth diagnosed with swine flu, but who later died from malaria.


'The symptoms of swine flu and malaria are almost identical, making it extremely difficult for healthcare professionals to diagnose accurately,' said Dr George Kassianos, a spokesperson for the Malaria Awareness Campaign. 'If flu-like symptoms are coupled with travel to a malarious destination in the last 12 months it is essential that malaria is ruled out.'


'Failure to identify malaria quickly can be potentially fatal, which is why I am urging patients to help their healthcare professional with diagnosis.'


With heavy reliance on phone consultations to avoid the spread of flu, it is even more important that patients advise the healthcare professional of their travels.


Dr Kassianos continues: 'Equally I would like to remind fellow healthcare professionals to ask their patient if they have travelled into a malaria risk area, and to take this into consideration when making their diagnosis.'


Malaria can present within the first three months but on occasions it can be a year or more from the time the traveller was bitten by an infected mosquito. Prevention is key and travellers should seek travel health advice six to eight weeks before travel


To find out which countries present a risk of malaria, and the level of that risk, check out the new interactive map at http://www.malariahotspots.co.uk/. Mobile users can also check if they are headed to a malarious area by texting the name of the country to 07800 000571.


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The Malaria Awareness Campaign is organised by GlaxoSmithKline Travel Health.


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Notes to editors:

The Malaria Awareness Campaign is organised by GlaxoSmithKline Travel Health in association with a leading panel of healthcare professionals, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 'Know Before You Go' programme and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). The campaign aims to educate UK travellers about the risk of malaria and encourages them to seek expert medical advice before their journey.