With the news that Hollywood actor George Clooney is recovering from potentially life-threatening disease malaria, the Tropical Medical Bureau is urging UK and Irish travellers to be more cautious and acquire the appropriate vaccinations prior to travel.
Speaking on this story, Dr Graham Fry, Medical Director of the Tropical Medical Bureau, said “We would like to stress how important it is for people to be prepared before travelling and not leave it until you get home when you may need treatment. Prevention is always better than the cure.”

“The malaria tablets we have nowadays are excellent but they still do not provide 100% cover against this serious disease. All travellers returning from an at-risk region of the world should be aware that any flu-like symptoms in the weeks or months following their trip should be investigated for possible malaria.”

“The main protection against malaria rests on using good effective mosquito avoidance techniques though prophylaxis with tablets should always be used in regions of the world where this disease is common”

As illustrated by recent celebrity contractions of the disease, malaria can affect any demographic of traveller: “Malaria is a disease which can affect any traveller and it is not just found on safari and backpacking holidays but also in some of the major cities which business travellers may be exposed.”

The National Surveillance Centre www.ndsc.ie report on Notifiable Diseases issued last week shows a solid increase in reported cases of malaria with 82 reported cases of malaria in the 12 months up to 31st December 2010 in comparison to 90 cases for the previous 12 months.

“The number of cases reported in Ireland over the past decade has hugely increased on the levels we saw for the previous 2 or 3 decades. The number of official cases reported each year in the 80s and 90s was in the region of 15 to 30 cases but during the past 5 to 6 years we are commonly seeing 70 to 90 cases each year. The NDSC statistics show that about 50% of these cases are among the VFR group (people now living in Ireland but returning to visit their “ancestral” homes in regions like West Africa and not realising the fact that any antibody protection they would have built up in Africa, over years of exposure to the disease, disappears very rapidly (approx 6 months) after they come to live in Ireland. This means that the VFR traveller is just as much at risk (even higher) as the “native” Irish traveller.”

www.tmb.ie offers country by country vaccination requirements as well as health advice and safety guidelines for travelling in any part of the world. Tropical Medical Bureau centres stock the full range of travel vaccines, so there is no excuse not to get the correct vaccinations.

TMB also have a 24/7 helpline for registered TMB patients so your clinic is always contactable while you are abroad.

Tropical Medical Bureau have 23 clinics nationwide. For more information or to book your appointment please visit www.tmb.ie