Croydon residents travelling to Africa or Asia this summer are being urged to protect themselves against potentially life-threatening malaria.
The warning has been issued by Public Health England to make more people aware of the risks of contracting malaria, to speak to their GP about antimalarial tablets before travelling, and take measures to avoid mosquito bites while abroad.
Even if your holiday is imminent, it is never too late to get advice. Taking precautionary measures while away, such as wearing long sleeves and trousers between sunset and sunrise, using an insect repellent, ideally containing DEET, and sleeping under an insecticide-treated mosquito net can reduce the risks of harmful insect bites.
Malaria is preventable, although many people do not realise they are vulnerable and often fail to take appropriate steps to protect themselves.
Every year around 1,500 people return to the UK from overseas with malaria, and in south London there were 450 cases in 2017 – a 14% increase on the previous year.
People can mistakenly think they are not at risk of malaria when visiting a familiar country, but this is not the case. The majority of people who contracted the disease reported visits to friends and family as their reason for travel.
“Residents who are looking forward to their summer break or travelling to see family or friends abroad should take every precaution to ensure they stay in the best health possible and protect themselves against preventable diseases. We are encouraging everyone in the borough to ask their GP or local pharmacist about holiday and other vaccinations needed to keep healthy.”
Councillor Jane Avis, cabinet member for families, health and social care
Rachel Flowers, Director of Public Health for Croydon, said: “Taking action now can help people understand if they need to get protected against malaria and other preventable diseases, which could not only ruin their holiday but could have longer-term impacts on their return to Croydon. I urge everyone who is planning to go abroad to check their vaccination records with their GP before travelling. Even if you were born abroad, you are not automatically immune from the risks of catching a serious illness from an insect bite or infected food or water.”
For more information on malaria and how to protect yourself visit the NHS Choices website.