How DNA testing can effectively help prevent malaria
In December last year there was a severe Malaria outbreak in South Africa, specifically in provinces such as Limpopo and Mpumalanga, where cases of cerebral malaria were reported.
The South Africa National Travel Health Network mentioned their key prevention strategy included spraying houses within the infected areas with long acting residual insecticides. While this may be one way to prevent the disease from spreading inside houses, we all still need to be taking precautionary measures when in a high risk area – to prevent being bitten by the dangerous Anopheles mosquito.
Dr Danny Meyersfeld, CEO of DNAlysis Biotechnology said there are small steps that can be taken to prevent getting bitten. These steps include wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts between sunset and sunrise, sleeping under a mosquito net and wearing effective mosquito repellents such as Peaceful Sleep or Tabard. However, logic dictates that prevention is always better than cure and with advancements in medicine, one can now take anti-malaria tablets as yet another measure to ensure you and your family are safe when in a high-risk zone.
While anti-malaria drugs are easily available to the public, they are renowned for the side effects that accompany them; with many a patient having their holidays destroyed after taking the medication. Depending on which medication one may choose, the side effects could present themselves in physical or mental form. Side effects can include drowsiness, stomach pains, nausea, headaches, depression, hallucinations and sun sensitivity, just to name a few. On top of this many malaria prevention medication are unsafe for pregnant women or children and can even decrease the efficiency of certain oral contraceptives.
When the medication can almost cause as much harm as the disease itself, what can we do to make this method safer for us?
With the new and exciting DNA testing technology available in South Africa, it is simple to find out the correct and safe dosage of malaria prevention medication for you and your family. The Medcheck test is a non-intrusive test that allows you to find out invaluable information about your genes including what medications you can take to avoid experiencing side effects.
Dr Meyersfeld explained that every individual has a slight variation within our DNA. These variations cause us to metabolize medication differently. Because of these variations we all have the potential to react to different medications differently. A DNA swab, which can be completed with DNAlysis’s Medcheck test, can help determine each specific gene and can therefore help you to find out which medications you should be taking and how much of these medications are healthy for your specific body. DNA testing can help determine which malaria prevention medications are safe for you depending on your gene variations. In this specific case, the gene that is tested is called CYP2C19 since it affects the way our body metabolizes Proguanil, a drug that is often found in anti-malaria medication.
What this breakthrough in both technology and modern medicine means is that you can now learn how to prevent malaria for you and your family effectively without having to worry about suffering the all too common side effects from the different medications. When traveling to high risk areas, you can take malaria prevention medication in a dosage that has been tailored to suit your specific genetic requirements.
This life changing test could not be more convenient. The test can be ordered online and can be completed from the comfort of your own home.