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Malaria warnings needed on late holiday deals

19th January 2011

Experts have issued a warning over travel websites offering late deals to malarial regions.

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They say the sites must carry clear warnings of the risk and give buyers enough time and information to take necessary precautions.

Concern has been raised by doctors who treated three UK patients in a week who had been to The Gambia.

All booked their holidays on the same site and none had sought medical advice before travelling to an area of Western Africa where malaria was endemic and they would have needed to take anti-malaria tablets and carry mosquito repellent.

The patients, in their 40s and 50s, were treated for a serious form of malaria at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Writing to the British Medical Journal, Dr John Widdrington said: “Many travel websites and holiday brochures, including the website used by our patients, make no specific reference to the risk of contracting malaria.

“Travel websites need to include explicit messages about taking medical advice and effective chemoprophylaxis before travelling to malaria endemic areas.”

The doctors have also written to the UK travel trade association ABTA to raise the issue.

Dr Widdrington said part of the problem was people leaving the planning of their holidays until the last minute.

ABTA said most travel websites carried information about the risks of malaria, but it was not always “upfront” and the onus was on the consumer to check properly for advice.

“When people are in a hurry not everybody will look in true depth and do all the research they need to,” she added.

 

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