Malaria Overview

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a common, serious and potentially fatal disease, which can be caused by five different species of parasites, affecting travelers to many tropical and subtropical countries.

How do you get Malaria?

Malaria parasites are transmitted by bites from infected mosquitos which typically bite from dusk to dawn. The species of parasite transmitted will affect the symptoms displayed.

What are the symptoms of Malaria?

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience flu-like symptoms during your trip.
Malaria symptoms exhibit as flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, aching, headache and vomiting. Malaria symptoms vary depending on the species of the parasite causing infection. While in some cases the symptoms show only after a long delay of many months, in other cases, death can occur within 36 hours.

What are the treatments for Malaria?

Anti-malarial drugs are very successful in almost all cases of complete cures of Malaria symptoms, especially if infection is identified early. The longer infection remains untreated, the greater the risk of treatment complications.

How can you prevent getting infected with Malaria?

As yet, there is no medical solution that is 100% effective at preventing the disease. There is no vaccine available for Malaria.
However, there are anti-malarial drugs travelers can take before, during and after their trip to help prevent developing Malaria symptoms if infected. Travelers are also advised to take preventative measures to help avoid mosquito bites during their trip.
Please consult your nearest travel health clinic at least six weeks before you travel.

Malaria Symptoms

If any flu-like symptoms develop during your travels, seek medical attention immediately.
Symptoms of Malaria vary depending on the species of parasite that infects the individual. Malaria symptoms may appear as soon as a week or sometimes be delayed to several months before symptoms appear, depending on the Malaria parasite causing infection.

Severity of Malaria symptoms also vary based on the five different species of parasite causing Malaria. The less serious Malaria symptoms are flu-like, such as headaches, fever, muscle and joint aches, chills and sweats, and vomiting and diarrhea. The more serious Malaria symptoms can include seizures, coma, kidney and respiratory failure, and shock which may in occasional cases lead to death if untreated.

Malaria Prevention

There is no vaccine available to immunize against Malaria. There is no medical solution available that can provide 100% protection against Malaria.

However, there are several anti-malarial drugs that can be used as a preventative measure to help avoid Malaria symptoms if infected. These often need to be taken before, during and after your trip. Please consult a travel medicine specialist for more information.
Malaria parasites in some regions have developed resistance to certain anti-malarial drug treatments, so please consult your local travel health clinic for further advice.

Just as important a preventative measure is to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Staying in Urban Areas
  • Avoiding travel during or after the rainy season
  • Discouraging Mosquito Bites by:
    • Cover exposed skin with hats and shoes
    • Wear light-coloured clothing
    • Use mosquito repellent (preferably DEET-based) on exposed skin
    • Apply a permethrin-based insecticide to clothing and tents
    • Sleep under a bed net
    • Stay in a completely-enclosed air-conditioned room
    • Avoid being outside from dusk until dawn