- Malaria is a potentially fatal illness.
People planning to travel to an area with malaria should see their physician
before travel, preferably at least six weeks before departure. Travelers should use
mosquito precautions and take medications to reduce the risk of disease.
- Mosquito precautions include wearing light, protective clothing and using
window screens and bed nets when available. The mosquito that spreads malaria is
active between dusk and dawn. Insect repellants should be used and should
contain DEET. Room sprays may be used to reduce the mosquito population in
- Several medications are available to prevent malaria. The
choice of medication used for prophylaxis depends on the area of the world that
is being visited and the drug-resistance pattern in that area. In general, the
medications are started before travel, taken while in the malarious area, and
continued for a period of time after leaving the area.
- There are no immunizations or vaccinations commercially available to prevent malaria.
- The Centers for Disease Control maintains a
web page (http://www.cdc.gov/travel) that gives specific recommendations for
If promptly diagnosed and treated, malaria is usually not fatal. Long-term effects are uncommon with prompt treatment. Delays in diagnosis come because the disease is rarely seen by clinicians in the United States and patients may ignore early symptoms. Delays increase the risk of serious complications or death. Because of the large burden of disease, scientists have been trying to make a malaria vaccine.
Picture of red blood cells infected with malaria parasites. The parasites look like rings inside the cells. SOURCE: CDC/Steven Glenn, Laboratory & Consultation Division
Figure 1: Picture of map showing where malaria is widespread (red), present in selected areas (yellow) or not present (green); SOURCE: CDC
Brunette, G.W., ed. CDC Health Information for International Travel 2012: The Yellow Book.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2014
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