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Malaria (cont.)

Malaria Prevention

  • 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 sleeping areas.
  • 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 ( that gives specific recommendations for every country.

Malaria Prognosis

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.

Malaria Picture

Picture of red blood cells infected with malaria parasites.   The parasites look like rings inside the cells.
Picture of red blood cells infected with malaria parasites. The parasites look like rings inside the cells. SOURCE: CDC/Steven Glenn, Laboratory & Consultation Division


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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Malaria, which predominantly occurs in tropical areas, is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by infection with Plasmodium protozoa transmitted by an infective female Anopheles mosquito vector.

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