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Malaria and leprosy among some of the tropical diseases treated at GWH
MALARIA, leprosy and dengue fever are among the tropical diseases patients at the Great Western Hospital have been diagnosed with in the last three years.
Figures released to the Adver under the Freedom of Information Act show that 15 people were found to have a form of malaria between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2011.
The oldest among them was a woman, aged 66 to 75, and the youngest was a boy aged 10 or under. Malaria is caught by being bitten by an infected mosquito and, of the 1,677 people infected in the UK in 2011, eight people died.
In terms of rarer tropical diseases, the figures also show that one woman, aged from 66 to 75, caught leprosy in 2010, a male, aged between 10 to 25, suffered from dengue fever in 2011, and a three people had schistosomiasis, which is a parasitic infection caused by blood flukes.
A spokesman for the Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “The trust does not employ any consultants who specialise in infectious diseases and therefore the majority of patients admitted with a ‘tropical disease’ are referred to the North Bristol NHS Trust or Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust where there are consultants who specialise in this area.
“If patients are admitted to the GWH or visit the emergency department with a suspected or confirmed ‘tropical disease’, clinicians will contact someone from a specialised unit for advice and patients will be transferred, if appropriate.
“Alternatively, the trust’s consultant microbiologists will seek expert advice and feedback this information to the clinician looking after the patient.”
Dr Peter Swinyard, based at Phoenix Surgery, in Toothill , who is chairman of the Family Doctor Association, said he expected the risk of Swindon people contracting tropical diseases had increased with the advent of cheaper air travel.
He said: “The core message really is if you are travelling outside Europe, think about travel immunisations, think what you might need and if you have even the slightest doubt, ask your surgery.
“We would much rather speak to someone and say ‘Okay, you don’t need anything’, rather than treat a case of malaria, which can kill people.”
- Malaria is a preventable, life-threatening disease transmitted by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. It is predominantly a disease affecting Africa, South and Central America, Asia, and the Middle East. The initial symptoms are flu-like and include a fever, headache, sweats, chills and vomiting.
- Dengue fever is a viral illness transmitted by the day-biting Aedes mosquitoes. It is endemic in about 100 countries in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Symptoms usually begin with a sudden high temperature. Other symptoms include a severe headache, eye pain; specifically pain behind the eyes, and severe aching in the bones and joints.
- Leprosy is a curable chronic infectious disease caused by the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae. It mainly affects the skin and peripheral nerves and also the respiratory mucosa and the eyes. Leprosy is still a highly stigmatising disease socially, yet despite its bad reputation, it is not highly infectious. Only 10 per cent of patients suffering with leprosy are infectious if left untreated.