Malaria – what you need to know before travelling

Malaria is a life threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Prevention is certainly better than cure, as any bout of malaria is likely to reoccur throughout life.

Malaria is still common in many parts of the world, although it is usually more prevalent in rural areas than major cities.

Expatriates travelling from malaria-free areas to disease ‘hot spots’ are especially vulnerable to the disease, as they have a low natural immunity and little resistance to the disease. Most malaria cases and deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa. However 109 countries in total can be affected, including: Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Europe, so it is crucial that travellers check whether malaria precautions are needed.

You cannot be vaccinated against malaria, but you can protect yourself in a number of ways:

Basic precautions include:

  • Mosquitoes bite at any time of day but most bites occur in the evening, so use mosquito nets for night time, and insect repellent for the body and the room
  • If you are out at night wear long sleeved clothing and long trousers
  • Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spray an insecticide or repellent on them. Insect repellents should also be used on exposed skin
  • If sleeping in an unscreened room or out of doors, a mosquito net (which should be impregnated with insecticide) is a sensible precaution. Portable, lightweight nets are available
  • Garlic, Vitamin B and ultrasound devices do not prevent bites

David Pryor of Medicare International comments, “Malaria is still virulent in many parts of the world. There is no vaccine against this disease and so despite precautions, visitors can sometimes be prone to infection.”

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Malaria – what you need to know before travelling
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