What about Malaria?
What is Malaria?
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that can infect a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. Almost all are in travelers and immigrants returning from parts of the world where malaria transmission occurs, mainly sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2010, there were 216 million cases of malaria, and 655,000 people died of malaria, most of them children in Africa.
Where does Malaria occur?
Malaria transmission occurs in many tropical and subtropical countries. CDC has a list of all the places in the world (http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/country_table/a.html) where malaria transmission occurs and the malaria drugs that are recommended for use in each place. If you are traveling to parts of the world where malaria transmission occurs, you could be at risk for malaria.
How is Malaria transmitted?
People get malaria from the bite of a mosquito that is infected with the malaria parasite.
How Can I Prevent Malaria?
- Take an anti-malaria drug
- Prevent mosquito bites
It is important that you visit your health-care provider 4–6 weeks before travel for a prescription for an antimalarial drug based on your travel itinerary and medical history. Antimalarial drugs are available by prescription only. Some antimalarial drugs can be started the day before travel and so last-minute travelers can still benefit from a visit to their local GP or Travel Doctor before traveling. Obtain your prescription before you travel rather than at your destination because buying medications abroad has its risks. They could be of poor quality, contaminated, or counterfeit and therefore not protect you from malaria. Remember, all medicines may have some side effects. Minor side effects such as nausea, occasional vomiting, or diarrhea usually do not require stopping the antimalarial drug.
Prevent Mosquito Bites:
- Mosquitoes that transmit malaria bite between dusk and dawn.
- Prevent mosquito bites by staying indoors during this time.
- If outdoors, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and a hat.
- Apply insect repellent to exposed skin only; do not use under clothing.
If you will not be staying in well-screened or air-conditioned rooms, take additional precautions, such as sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net (mosquito netting). Bed nets sprayed with the insecticide permethrin are most effective. In the United States, you can buy permethrin as a spray or liquid to treat clothes and bed nets and you can also purchase bed nets that have already been treated with permethrin. Permethrin and another insecticide, deltamethrin, can be purchased overseas to treat nets and clothes.