Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes, just as Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever are, and it is considered one of the most severe infectious diseases that travelers could encounter. Likely, most cases of Malaria are preventable! The best methods of prevention are awareness of risk, avoidance of mosquito bits, and chemoprophylaxis (antimalarial medication).
Awareness: Research the area that you will be visiting and determine if there is a risk of contracting malaria. This can be done by visiting the CDCs website or by calling a travel health clinic.
Avoidance: Once you determine that malaria is present in the country you are traveling to then it is time to do some shopping. The best methods of prevention are insect repellents.
– Wear protective clothing (Make sure you cover as must body surface area as possible to reduce exposed skin.)
– Apply insect repellents as directed by the manufacturer (The best insect repellent is one that contains 20%-50% DEET. Other active ingredients that are recommended are Picaridin and Lemon Eucalyptus.).
– Sleep in areas protected by screens and netting. Netting impregnated with a residual insecticide provide the best protection.
Chemoprophylaxis: There are many options when it comes to antimalarial drugs, determining which one will work best for you is dependent on two things: what country you are visiting and your concern with frequency of dosing and potential side effects. The best way to determine what will work best for you is by contacting a travel health clinic.
If upon return (up to one year after traveling) from your trip you are experiencing any signs and symptoms of illness (example: fever, diarrhea, respiratory illness or rash) please be sure to contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. It is important to inform your provider of your recent travels to aid them in determining the cause of your symptoms.