The risk posed by malaria to backpacking gap year students is "avoidable", according to new research.
A survey of nearly 1,000 ”gappers” has shown that a third of students did not take important antimalarial drugs which would protect against the disease.
The research, conducted by gapyear.com on behalf of the Malaria Awareness Campaign, also found that almost a quarter did not seek medical advice before leaving the UK, while forty-one per cent did not sleep under mosquito nets while away.
Commenting on the findings, gapyear.com founder Tom Griffith said: "An estimated 250,000 gap year students will head off on their gap year holidays this year and more than three quarters will visit malaria endemic areas."
The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that, while between 1,500 and 2,000 people return to the UK from overseas with malaria, an average of only nine people die each year as a result. However it suggests that this figure may be distorted as not all cases are reported.
Malaria is caused by a parasite which passes to humans via the bites of infected mosquitoes. Symptoms including headache, fever and vomiting may occur between ten to 15 days after infection.
"By not taking the necessary precautions, we believe hundreds are needlessly becoming seriously ill each year from malaria," Mr Griffith added.
Special Interest – Nightlife – From an extravagant meal to an eerie ghost walk – plenty of things to keep you entertained after the sun goes down.