Friday, August 28, 2009

Malaria in Tibet

Rarely a soul considers the risk of malaria while gazing upon the snow-covered Himalayas. Why should one bother? Tibet's high-altitude and cold-weather eliminate malaria-transmitting mosquitoes in most regions. For this reason, many travel books and web sites declare that "there is no risk of malaria in Tibet" (NaTHNaC). Unfortunately, this is absolutely untrue.

"Malaria is endemic in Linzhi Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), but the vector [definition: agent] for malaria transmission" was not identified until recently. It is now believed that the mosquito, "Anopheles pseudowillmori[,] is the predominant malaria vector" in the region (Song). Preventative treatment "is recommended...for travel along the valley of the Zangbo river in the extreme southeast" of Tibet (MD). "Anti-malaria medication is recommended for low-lying subtropical areas", particularly "during the rainy season" (Dorje 49).

Tibet is home to the "Falciparum type of malaria," which is considered to be the most dangerous and most deadly strain of malaria. "Various combinations of drugs are being used such as Quinine, Tetracycline or Halofantrine. If falciparum type of malaria is definitely diagnosed, it is wise to get a good hospital as treatment can be complex and the illness very serious" (Dorje 58). Clearly, "protection against mosquitoes and drug prophylaxis against malaria are essential" when traveling to certain areas of Tibet, and all travelers should be aware of the risk of infection (51).


Dorje, Gyurme. Tibet handbook: with Bhutan.

Galuzzi, Luca. Photo.

MD Travel Health. "Tibet". 28 August 2009.

NaTHNaC. "China (Tibet)." 28 August 2009.

Song, Wu. Et al. Malaria Journal 2009. "Anopheles pseudowillmori is the predominant malaria vector in Motuo County, Tibet Autonomous Region." 16 March 2009.

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