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Would you like to be bitten?

Malaria prevention in Chiang Mai

The re-emergence of malaria along certain border areas is giving the Public Health Ministry a terrible headache. However, like Aids, the deadly disease can be avoided if you have proper protection. (Not the same kind of protection, of course). It would be a pity if you let malaria come between you and the splendor of nature.

Malaria is caused by a tiny parasite called Plasmodium, which is carried around by infected Anopheles mosquitoes. The only known way these bloody parasites can be transmitted to you is through mosquito bites. So if you don't get bitten by the mosquitoes - which attack people during the early hours of the night - you don't get malaria. It's that simple. Preventive medication is not recommended as the disease may then be harder to detect. The best thing to do is to have your blood checked if you don't feel well a week or two after a visit to the forest. A hospital for tropical diseases is usually the best place. Normally, treating malaria is less of a problem if it is detected early.

Also, while you are in the forest, covering yourself with proper clothing and applying a tad of insect repellent on exposed parts should do the trick. Sleeping gear is also important. In some areas, a mosquito net is recommended even if you sleep in park accommodation. Tents are safe since most of them are equipped with mosquito nets. However, a lot of Thai nature lovers prefer hammocks to tents because they are more practical in our tropical forests. But the bad news is that despite the fact netted hammocks have long been available on the market, most trekkers still opt for unnetted ones, which at about 200 THB a piece are three to five times cheaper.

But the high price of netted hammocks is still a lot cheaper than the hospital bills you would have to pay if you hit the malarial jackpot.

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