Malaria strikes 90 Irish tourists in just one year
IRELAND'S disease watchdog was notified of 90 cases of malaria in people who had travelled overseas last year.
New figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) said that half of all cases were notified during the third quarter of the year "coinciding with the summer holiday period, and most likely reflecting increased travel to endemic countries during this time",
It said the number of cases notified last year was similar to that reported for the previous three years.
Malaria, a potentially fatal illness, is a common but serious tropical disease passed on through a bite from a malaria-infected mosquito.
More than 90pc of cases occur in tropical Africa. For travellers and tourists, Africa south of the Sahara probably represents the area of greatest risk of malaria.
Cases in Ireland have been associated with overseas travel and immigrants returning from malaria-risk areas.
The HPSC said: "It is important to remember that deaths from malaria in travellers are largely preventable."
It has advised that protection from biting mosquitoes is the first line of defence, including avoiding going out between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes commonly bite.
There are effective medications to help prevent the development of malaria, which may have to be taken up to a week before entering the malarious area, and for several weeks after leaving it.
Malaria, if not promptly treated, can cause kidney failure, coma and death.
Travel presenter Kathryn Thomas has told how she was struck down with malaria during a trip to Papua New Guinea for the RTE show No Frontiers in 2008.
"I woke up around 2am and I couldn't feel anything from the waist down. I was feverish and started hallucinating." Her team rushed her to a doctor for treatment.