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Caution travelers: Malaria strikes Venezuela.

Posted by Stuart Rose on

This weeks's New York Times has a harrowing look at how a breakdown in the economy and public infrastructure in Venezuela has lead to a dramatic return of Malaria:
"The promise of a different Venezuela — one where there is ample food and work that pays enough — led Yudani González to abandon a program to become a preschool teacher in Ciudad Bolívar, the provincial capital, where unemployment is rampant. Instead, she headed to a ramshackle jungle camp, where she cooks for miners with one hand and cares for her two young children with the other. And Reinaldo Balochi lost his job last year and was unable to find another; Venezuela’s plummeting currency had whittled his salary down to about $26 a month. He also left home for the mines.
Like tens of thousands of other people from across the country, Mr. Balocha came to these open, swampy mines scattered across the jungle, looking for a future. Here, waiters, office workers, taxi drivers, college graduates and even civil servants on vacation from their government jobs are out panning for black-market gold, all under the watchful eyes of an armed group that taxes them and threatens to tie them to posts if they disobey.
It is a society turned upside down, a place where educated people abandon once-comfortable jobs in the city for dangerous, backbreaking work in muddy pits, desperate to make ends meet. And it comes with a steep price: Malaria, long driven to the fringes of the country, is festering in the mines and back with a vengeance.
And among the malaria strains present there is Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most fatal form of the disease; as well as shortages of chloroquine and primaquine, two drugs used for Plasmodium vivax, the most prevalent malaria parasite in the Americas.

The bottom line: If you are visiting Venezuela, be aware of the increased risk of this disease, as well as the possibility that the drugs you may need may not be available. Consider having your doctor give you a treatment dose of Malarone (4 tablets as a single dose) if you get an unexplained fever. Get checked in 24 hours in case you do have malaria and need another two days of Malarone treatment.

In addition, prevent mosquito bites in the evening and at night—that's when the malaria parasites are transmitted.

Consider the Zika Virus and Malaria treatment kit.

 

Reference: NY Times

 

 


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