Malaria cases for have risen by 30% as UK travellers neglect pills according to this report

Cases of malaria in people living in Britain rose by almost a third in two years, with many cases blamed on complacent attitudes to anti-malarial tablets.

Even people living in Britain visiting the country in which they were born or grew up, or have previously visited, are not immune from malaria and should take precautions.

Figures from the Health Protection Agency today show that 1,761 cases were reported last year, compared with 1,495 in 2009 and 1,370 in 2008.

Malaria is almost completely preventable when precautions are taken. Of 997 cases where information was available, 850 involved people who had not taken anti-malaria pills in countries where the disease was prevalent.

Malaria is spread by mosquitoes. One bite can infect. Symptoms can develop within eight days of a bite but the disease may stay dormant in the body for a year.

Four out of 10 cases in 2010 were among UK residents who had travelled to Nigeria or Ghana and 11 per cent of cases were people who had visited India. The data was released to mark World Malaria Day and includes Britons and visitors who fell ill in the UK.

Five types of anti-malaria drugs available from GP surgeries. Professor Peter Chiodini, from the agency’s malaria reference laboratory, said: “Even people living in Britain visiting the country in which they were born or grew up, or have previously visited, are not immune from malaria and should take precautions.”

Dr Jane Jones, head of the agency’s travel and migrant health section, added that people also needed to understand that one bout of malaria did not grant immunity to later infections. “It is a myth that people who have had malaria will not get it again,” she said.

“Our advice is the same for all travellers – you must take anti-mosquito precautions and medication to keep safe.”

According to the Health Protection Agency, people who visit friends and relatives are at greater risk of other travel-related infectious diseases, compared with business or holiday travellers, because they tend to travel for longer periods of time and usually stay with family or friends.