The risk of malaria
Malaria is still a health risk for anyone travelling to exotic climes and occurs in over 100 countries throughout the world. For this reason alone it is considered to be the world's most important tropical disease and if you are travelling to Africa, Asia or South America it is well worth getting advice from your doctor prior to travelling to ensure you take appropriate precautions.
Malaria is caught from a bite by a malaria-infected mosquito. Only the females bite, as they need blood to help them develop their eggs. The disease is transmitted by the anopheles mosquito and is caused by minute parasitic protozoa of the genus plasmodium. When a mosquito bites an infected person, it ingests these parasites that are present in the infected person's blood. The plasmodium parasites develop in the mosquito and are passed on in the saliva of the insect to whomever it bites. The infected blood then travels to the liver where they invade the cells. After roughly two weeks, they return to the blood, penetrating and breaking down the red cells. This induces bouts of fever and anaemia in the infected person. Malaria can also damage other vital organs including the brain, so it should be taken seriously.
Is there a cure?
Malaria is generally a curable disease as long as it is promptly diagnosed and treated. Effective anti-malarial medicines, such as chloroquine, doxycycline and mefloquine, can prevent the symptoms of acute malaria from developing by suppressing the infection in the blood stream. These are certainly effective in the most common form of malaria, the plasmodium falciparum strain, which does not have relapses of infection, unlike some less common strains of the parasite.
Any traveller developing a fever that lasts more than a few days should have prompt medical treatment and should be screened for malaria. If you have been given anti-malaria medicines it is important that you continue to take the medication for four weeks after a possible exposure to ensure the infection has run its course and the medicines have taken effect. Visit your doctor well in advance of travelling and ask whether you need anti-malaria medicines. Take protective clothing with you, as well as mosquito repellents and mosquito nets to place over your bed. If you follow these precautions you are unlikely to encounter any problems.
Some useful web sites
From the World Health Organisation - www.who.int/health-topics/malaria.htm
Tips from the Malaria Foundation International on how to avoid malaria on your travels - www.malaria.org/travelhealth.html
Losing your luggage when flying is one of the most irritating and inconvenient aspects of air travel and dreaded by most passengers. Usually the cause is due to luggage being put on a different flight to your own, so whilst you're waiting in London your suitcase is on its way to New York.
In most cases, the airline will return any errant luggage to you within 24 hours, as long as you report the missing bags straight away, but occasionally your suitcases can be truly lost.
If the airline can find no trace of your bags, you need to file a claim. Depending on the airline, you generally have between 21 and 45 days in which to file the claim although it is advisable to do this before leaving the airport, if possible. You will be asked to provide a list of the items that were in your suitcases, plus when and where they were bought and how much they cost. It is vital that you retain a copy of the claim as waiting to be reimbursed could take a long time. It is also worth keeping in mind that there is usually a limit to the amount that can be claimed for the loss of luggage and this varies in different countries. Airlines are not liable for jewellery, cameras, money, business documents and fragile or perishable goods so it is important that you obtain additional insurance for such items.
- Take any valuable or necessary items in your hand luggage.
- Label your luggage on the inside as well as on the outside and include name, address and phone number. Include your itinerary so that you can be easily found by the airline.
- Be sure to arrive at the airport in time as often luggage goes missing when there has not been enough time to get the bags onto the plane.
- Ensure your bags are locked and on arrival check the locks, reporting any damage or missing items to the airline immediately.
- Many bags are lost with connecting flights so try to avoid them if possible.
- If you are travelling with someone else try splitting you and your partner's clothes between bags so if the worst should happen, you'll both have something clean to wear.
Booking a rental car
Reserving a hire car in the destination of your choice provides that element of freedom that enables travellers to see more of the surrounding area and doesn't limit you to the hotel or leave you reliant on a sometimes undependable public transport system. Most of the larger car rental companies are extremely reliable but occasionally travellers arrive at the airport only to find the car they thought they reserved is not there. In order to ensure this doesn't happen to you, there are a number of things you should do prior to arriving at your destination.
- Reserve the car well in advance with a reputable company.
- Request written confirmation of the booking and a confirmation number, as without this you will have no proof of your reservation. Even telephone the company to make sure that a car will be waiting for you when you arrive.
- If you have done all this and a car is still not waiting for you, this could be due to the rental company over booking in order to compensate for the number of customers who book but don't turn up. In this situation always ask the company to find you a car from a competitor at the same hire rate as the car you booked with them. If they are unable to find one and you have to rent a car at a higher rate, then be sure to request a refund for the difference in price.