Last modified on April 8th, 2022 at 2:06 pm

Tips for Traveling to Countries with Malaria

While you may have heard of malaria, your knowledge of exactly what it is and how you can contract the disease might be a bit more tenuous. Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite, and that parasite is spread to humans through being bitten by a mosquito that has been infected with the parasite.

Once infected with the disease, a person with malaria will feel very sick, have a high fever and shaking chills. Some of the symptoms of malaria are:

Abdominal pain
Muscle or joint pain
Rapid heart rate or breathing

Malaria signs and symptoms will usually begin a few weeks after being bitten by an infected mosquito, but could also take up to a year to present themselves.

Uncommon in temperate climates, malaria is common in tropical and subtropical countries. These countries include:

Sub-Saharan Africa
South and Southeast Asia
Pacific Islands
Central American and northern South America

Malaria, if not treated quickly, can be a deadly disease; therefore, preventing it in the first place is vital when traveling abroad. Here are some of the measures/tips to consider following when thinking of visiting malaria-prone regions.

Plan Ahead to Prevent It

If you are traveling to an area where malaria is common, it is important to take steps to avoid getting bit by mosquitos. There are some simple things you can do to help protect yourself from bites.

Cover your skin. It is advisable to wear pants and long-sleeved shirts. Tuck your shirt in your pants and your pants into your socks. This will help prevent mosquitos getting to your skin.

Choose Permethrin Treated Clothing for your trip. Clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear can be treated with permethrin to kill or repel insects, like mosquitoes and ticks. The U.S. military has been using permethrin for decades to protect soldiers from diseases that are carried by insects.

Choose the Right Kind of Insect Repellent 

Choose an insect repellent that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. Use this on exposed skin, but don’t spray directly on your face. Spray on your hand and then wipe it on your face. 

Use a repellent that has DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. The EPA has advice to help you Find the Repellent that is Right for You.

Apply insect repellent to your clothes. Repellents that have permethrin in them are safe to apply to your clothes. 

Sleep under a mosquito net. Nets that can be hung over nets or hammocks can help keep mosquitoes at bay. Some tents are treated with insecticides to help keep them from being attracted to you.

Choose the Right Drugs for Preventing Malaria

Before traveling to an area in which malaria is a possibility, consult with your doctor a few months ahead of the time you plan to travel. Your doctor will be able to advise you about whether you should take malaria drugs before, during or even after you have been exposed to the possibility of malaria. The drugs taken to prevent malaria are the same that are used to treat the disease.

Antimalarial drugs include:

  • Artemisinin drugs (artemether and artesunate)
  • Atovaquone (Mepron®)
  • Chloroquine
  • Doxycycline (Doxy-100®, Monodox®, Oracea®)
  • Mefloquine
  • Quinine

The World Health Organization (WHO), issued the First-ever malaria vaccine recommendation now published in a position paper and in the WHO guidelines for malaria.

Check With The Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Before Traveling

The CDC has guidelines Malaria | Disease Directory | Travelers’ Health to give advice, and a list of Destinations | Travelers’ Health . The destinations list will give you health notices and vaccine recommendations for the area you wish to visit.

In Conclusion

If you have plans to travel to any of the countries where malaria is common, it is best to seek the advice of your medical professional several months before traveling. While there, take the above precautions to protect yourself from contracting the disease. With the right preparations, and an abundance of caution, you will give yourself the best possible outcome.