30,000 International Travelers Got Malaria

Giraffe in Lumo Wildlife Park in Kenya

Malaria is one of the illnesses that our volunteers ask about the most before going abroad.

Since 2001, the year we started Cosmic Volunteers, we have had two volunteers get malaria. Both cases of malaria happened in Ghana. We got them treatment immediately and they recovered fine.

Malaria Worldwide

First, let’s understand the overall malaria situation worldwide.

The World Malaria Report by the World Health Organization (WHO) is perhaps the most reliable source of information on malaria. They draw on data from 91 countries and areas with ongoing malaria transmission. 

According to the WHO, in 2015:

> There were there were 212 million new cases of malaria worldwide.

> Africa accounted for 90% of cases, followed by the South-East Asia Region (7%) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (2%).

Malaria Among International Travelers

For tracking malaria among international travelers, the most comprehensive data comes from GeoSentinel

GeoSentinel was initiated in 1995 by the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) with support from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

GeoSentinel is a worldwide communication and data collection network for the surveillance of travel-related morbidity.

Malaria Analysis — 2003-2016

Here are Geo Sentinel’s findings about malaria AFTER international travel from 2003–2016:

> Over 30,000 malaria cases are reported annually among international travellers.

> More than half (53%) were visiting friends and relatives.

> Median age was 37 years.

> 69% were male.

> Most (83%) were exposed in sub-Saharan Africa.

> The median trip duration was 32 days.

> 53% did not have a pre-travel visit.

> More than half (62%) were hospitalized (73% of children).

Preventing Malaria

How to prevent malaria?

Consider taking malaria pills such as Malarone.

More importantly though (IMHO) — Avoid mosquito bites!

When sundown first starts:

> Cover up with long sleeves and pants/pajamas

> Use bug spray with DEET

> Sleep inside a mosquito net

> Spray Listerine in the air and furniture around you

> Burn local charcoal coils whose smoke repels bugs

> Use “Medisoft” body lotion in Ghana