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Malaria: Global Rescue's Phil Seidenberg tells you what you need to know

  
  

Phil Seidenberg, Global Rescue's African Regional Medical Director, talks to Anthony Acerrano and Sports Afield about ways to reduce the risks of malaria. With 5 years spent living and working in Zambia, he has encountered and treated his fair share of cases.

Because malaria is rare in the United States, we don't hear a lot about it, save for periodic media sound bites that are largely negative and often unsettling.  The news is usually bad news. For instance: More than 350 million people contract malaria each year, and about one million die from it. Meanwhile, drug-resistant strains of malarial parasites are said to be on the increase, making the disease harder to prevent and more difficult to cure. Every year, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), approximately 1,500 American travelers are diagnosed with malaria after their return to the States. And, the CDC claims, "Travelers to sub-Saharan Africa have the greatest risk of both getting malaria and dying from their infection."


Yikes. That remark made me wonder: What, in fact, is the actual malaria risk for someone visiting Africa's hunting countries? And what are the best ways to safeguard against the disease? Also, if one does contract malaria, what's the likely prognosis? Is a full cure likely?  In sum, how concerned or worried should we be about the risks and dangers of malaria?


To get the best possible answers to these questions I wanted to talk with someone who knows the subject in practice as well as in theory. Since few American doctors ever see, much less treat, an actual case of malaria, I opted to go to Africa--if only by phone this time--to interview a working authority on the subject. Dr. Phil Seidenberg has lived and practiced medicine in Zambia for five years. For the last 3 1/2 years he has been African Regional Medical Director for Global Rescue (see below) in the capital city of Lusaka, where he has encountered and treated many cases of malaria.


Unsurprisingly, Seidenberg confirms that malaria is endemic in most of the hunting countries, and agrees that the disease should be taken seriously by everyone visiting Africa. That's the simple part. The specifics get a bit more complicated.


As most of us know, malaria is not a uniform threat even in Africa. The risk level varies region to region, and often is variable within a country or province.


"For instance, West Africa is generally high risk," says Seidenberg, "as are parts of Ethiopia; while Botswana is low risk. I've never seen a malaria case from the border area [with Zambia and Zimbabwe] of Botswana. Another anomaly is South Africa; they don't have much malaria."

Read the full story here.

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