Indonesian officials declared a health emergency for Lombok on Saturday, September 15, as incidences of malaria spread through the island. As of Saturday, the mosquito-borne disease has infected 128 people. Authorities are particularly concerned for the upcoming rainy season that will begin in November and provide more standing water for mosquitos to breed. The Lombok government is seeking funding from the central government to purchase mosquito nets, test kits, and other medical equipment.
A series of strong earthquakes in July and August killed at least 500 people and injured thousands more and seriously damaged the island's infrastructure and health system. Hundreds of thousands of residents were left homeless due to the successive tremors and many refused to sleep indoors for fear of another earthquake.
Malaria is caused by a parasitic infection spread by the Anopheles mosquito. Symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, nausea, and body aches; early symptoms usually appear between seven and 15 days after the contaminating mosquito bite. There is no vaccine but preventive medications are available. Generally speaking, the risk of contracting malaria is highest at night (between dusk and dawn), when the mosquitoes that transmit the disease are most active.
Individuals in Lombok are advised to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites - e.g. by wearing covering clothing, using insect repellent, and sleeping in an air conditioned room - and to eliminate possible mosquito breeding grounds in and around their residences (small pockets of fresh water, such as rain water that has collected in cans, bottles, tires, flower pots, clogged gutters, etc.). Individuals exhibiting symptoms of serious infection should seek medical attention immediately.
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