Where are the high risk areas for Malaria?

29th May 2019

Holidaying in exotic places or travelling far and wide can be very exciting and is something that more and more people are embarking upon. And while you need to make sure you remember your sunglasses and sun tan lotion, you should also make sure that you’re protected against any nasty diseases that are rife in the place you are going to. One such disease to prepare for is Malaria, and it is good to prepare for your trip by taking travel medication before you leave.

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a parasitic disease that is carried and spread by mosquitoes in certain parts of the world, particularly where there is a tropical or subtropical climate. The disease is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito and after contracting the disease, symptoms will typically appear within 10 days to 4 weeks (although it can sometimes take several months if it lies dormant).

The reason it’s so important to be vigilant about Malaria is because the disease is life-threatening. If the parasite works its way into your bloodstream then it begins to mature in your liver before gradually infecting your red blood cells. As the parasite multiplies, your blood cells burst open and this causes the malaria symptoms, such as a high fever, excessive sweating and shakes or chills. You can prevent Malaria by using certain medicine prior to your trip.

Following are some types of medicines which can be useful in preventing Malaria that you should consider taking prior to your trip.

  • Atovaquone/Proguanil

    Atovaquone/Proguanil Prevents infection and is an effective treatment for malaria. It is great for travellers.

  • Doxycycline

    Doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic that fights bacteria and protects against malaria.

  • Lariam

    Lariam is an antimalarial medicine which destroys the parasite that causes malaria.

  • Malarone

    Malarone is effective at preventing malaria. It also kills the parasite that causes the infection.

Keep in mind that these are prescription-only medications so you will want to plan for your prescription prior to your trip or use our online doctor's service to obtain one.

Prevention is better than cure

If you contract Malaria, then treatment should be very prompt and although the disease is deadly, virtually everyone will make a full recovery if treated properly. The reason that it’s important to protect against it is not only to prevent the spread of Malaria or to save yourself from the highly unpleasant symptoms, but because advanced healthcare may not be that readily available if you are travelling to under-developed or remote parts of the world.

Although protection against a lot of travel-related diseases comes in the form of a vaccination, protecting against malaria involves a short course of tablets (to be taken orally). The number of tablets you require will vary based on where you go and how long you go for so always consult a doctor if you’re unsure.

Also read: how does doxycycline protect against malaria.

Be prepared

When planning your trip, you should assess the dangers of the location you have chosen. The heat map below clearly shows the level of risk associated with each destination (data sourced from CDC, July 18), so that you can plan protection against malaria accordingly (which should be a combination of medication and anti-mosquitoes measures).

You should bear in mind that even if the CDC have assessed that the risk is ‘none’, Malaria could still be present in remote areas of the country. Similarly, ‘no data available’ means just that - it does not mean that malaria is definitely not a risk in that particular country or area.

Wherever you’re going, you should also check for a variety of other risk factors (besides malaria) and make sure that all the required jabs and vaccinations are up-to-date. Most importantly, don’t forget to be safe and have an amazing trip.