Planning a late-winter tropical vacation? You might want to take extra precautions against malaria, especially if you’re part of the senior set, a new study suggests.
British researchers, reporting in the British Medical Journal, have found tourists over the age of 65 who visit countries with high rates of malaria are almost 10 times more likely to die from the disease than those who are aged 18-35.
Disease detectives from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Oxford analyzed 20 years of health reports involving more 25,000 patients. They compared fatal and non-fatal cases of malaria and found the risk of dying from the disease increased steadily with age, with about 4.6 percent of cases fatal in people aged over 65.
About 250 million cases of malaria are diagnosed worldwide each year, causing more than 800,000 deaths. Travel to malaria-infected countries is increasing, which raises the odds of tourists returning home with the disease.
Researchers said the study’s findings spotlight the importance of tourists seeking pre-travel advice from their doctors, taking anti-malaria drugs and being sure to report any symptoms after returning from a trip to a tropical nation.