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The Travel Bug Can Kill You

Malaria is becoming a serious health threat for international travellers

Canadians preparing for a trip to the tropics and subtropics need to think about more than sunblock and warm weather gear, says Prof. Kevin Kain of the department of medicine. Malaria is becoming a serious health threat for international travellers and they need to learn how to protect themselves. The number of Canadians dying from preventable malaria-associated illnesses has multiplied in recent years, says Kain, director of Toronto General Hospital’s tropical diseases unit and author of a report on malaria in Canada in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. “What we don’t want people doing is going away on a great holiday and coming back in a body bag – and that’s what can happen,” he says. Canadians are among the most travelled people in the world, says Kain, yet medical knowledge has not kept up with this trend, and there is an urgent need to educate both physicians and travellers about the prevention and treatment of malaria. He recommends that people seek advice on malaria at an academic-associated travel clinic (such as the Toronto General Hospital travel clinic, which advises and manages regular and high-risk travellers) before going abroad.

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