Nurses and other healthcare professionals should ensure that patients understand how to minimise the risk of contracting malaria when they travel to areas where the disease is prevalent, updated guidance from PHE has said.
The updated guidelines recommend using the ‘ABCD’ method when giving advice to patients who are about to travel to countries where malaria is endemic. ABCD stands for awareness of risk, bite prevention, chemoprophylaxis (the administration of a medication to prevent disease or infection), and diagnose promptly and treat without delay. Nurses and healthcare professionals should make sure that travellers are aware of all these aspects of malaria prevention. The updated guidelines have been written specifically for travellers from the UK, as the risk of them catching malaria differs slightly to permanent residents in malaria zones.
The guidelines authors said: ‘Travellers from the UK do not usually visit all possible localities of malaria-endemic countries and may not visit the same localities as travellers from other countries. Many travellers from the UK who enter malaria-endemic countries are visiting friends and relatives in localities from which people tend to migrate to the UK. They do not therefore suffer exactly the same patterns of malaria exposure as permanent residents or visitors from other cultures.’
The guidance emphasises that malaria prevention is only one aspect of pre-travel advice, and that healthcare professionals should carry out a full risk assessment based on the intended destination of the patient. Other recommendations include tailoring a patients antimalarial treatment to their clinical history, and explaining the symptoms of malaria to the patient to improve early diagnosis and treatment.
The authors added: ‘Recommendations for antimalarials should be appropriate for the destination and tailored to the individual, taking into account possible risks and benefits to the traveller. As part of an individual stringent risk assessment it is essential that a full clinical history is obtained, detailing current medication, significant health problems and any known drug allergies.’