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Q&A by Ilona Kauremszky

Q: Is there some kind of resource that helps identify malaria-infested places? My son wishes to travel to South America and I wish to know what parts might be prone to this? Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

A: As a trip preplanner, it's a good idea that about a month before he departs for his journey he should visit a travel doctor to find out what precautions he should take. One suggestion is to contact The Travel Medicine Centre located at 700 Bay St., Suite 609 in Toronto.

For malaria-prone countries there were findings from a study published earlier this year in the science journal, Nature, that suggests the number of reported cases is as much as 50% higher than World Health Organization (WHO) estimates. The good news is that many people can travel to malaria-stricken areas without incident.

I traipsed through the bushland of South Africa in the heart of safari country but took precautions like wearing neutral toned long sleeves, pants and spraying plenty of DEET while the one person who opted to take anti-malaria pills ended up having such bad side-effects, they missed a few safaris.

Talk to your doctor or health practitioner and get their recommendation. Also find out what time of year your son wishes to travel as the time of year is another factor on malaria activity.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a list of some basic preventative measures you can read at their web site, www.cdc.gov/travel/.

There is an entire section devoted to malaria and you can click on the appropriate region of the country. For example, in the section, "Malaria Information for Travelers to Countries in Temperate South America," the CDC writes, "Malaria is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito; these mosquitoes usually bite between dusk and dawn.

To avoid being bitten, remain indoors in a screened or air-conditioned area during the peak biting period. If out-of-doors, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats. Apply insect repellent (bug spray) to exposed skin."

For more information on what areas are considered malaria risk zones, visit the CDC's Traveler's Health web site, which lists specific topics such as Destinations, Vaccinations, Diseases, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and more.

If you wish to contact the Travel Medicine Center, you can visit them online at www.travelclin.com/ or phone 416-340-8222. This web site also has a comprehensive link on the subject of malaria which you can easily click on.

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All text & photos mycompass.ca 2005.