Twice as many Quebeckers return home with malaria they caught while traveling, according to figures released recently by the Ministry of Health. This potentially fatal disease, also known as malaria, can only be contracted in some tropical countries by the bite of an infected mosquito. Except in very rare cases where people have been infected by blood transfusion, malaria is not contagious.
In 2013, only 115 Quebeckers were reported they have contracted malaria. In 2017, 259 Quebeckers returned home with malaria. The majority of them have traveled in Africa.
Until the beginning of 2018, 52 malaria cases have already been registered by health authorities in Quebec.
These figures are not surprising, however, since more and more Quebeckers are flying to exotic destinations, sometimes without taking the necessary precautions, explains the president of the Association of Physicians Microbiologist Infectious Diseases of Quebec, Karl Weiss.
“People are traveling a lot more to destinations that were once distant and exotic,” he says.
People’s carelessness expose to serious consequences
“People do not always think about malaria, and often the affected countries do not always put the emphasis on it because they do not want to scare tourists,” Weiss says.
Two groups of travelers are particularly affected, according to specialists:
- The Quebeckers working or living African countries, where malaria is widespread, who return home to visit their families;
- The young travelers who take little precautions against malaria;
The Journal Of Montreal reported last month the case of a young man who contracted malaria in Tanzania, who will have to pay back $64,000 after being treated and repatriated to Canada since he did not have travel insurance.
What precautions should be taken?
Ministry figures reveal that as many as 38 Quebeckers contracted malaria in Tanzania last year against only one person in 2013.
However, a few precautions should be taken to avoid contracting malaria, says Vincent Bolduc, the owner of a travel agency specialized in African destination.
“Cover yourself, apply a mosquito repellent and, of course, take the antimalarial drug, Malarone,” he says. “In 17 years, we have never had one of our customers who has been infected,” he adds.
In conclusion, more and more Quebeckers return home with malaria and this situation is also occurring in other regions but in Quebec, in particular, the toll is on the rise.