Malaria is a serious infection caused by a parasite spread by mosquitos in some tropical and sub-tropical countries. There is no malaria vaccine. To protect yourself traveling against Malaria, prescription medication should be provided for itinerary’s where there is a risk. Our travel doctors and nurse practitioners will review your specific itinerary, health information, and provide the best prescription for your trip.
Where in the world is Malaria?
Malaria occurs in Africa, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Central America, and South America. It can vary depending on the country. It can occur in rural or urban areas. Sub-Saharan Africa carries an especially high risk for Malaria. Malaria risk can change in countries depending on the season, outbreaks, and resurgences. Our providers have access to the most up to date Malaria information to see if you are at risk.
Why is it important to prevent Malaria?
Malaria prevention is key in travelers at risk. Malaria infection causes sudden fever and illness. Sometimes people mistake the headache, chills, and vomiting at first can be mild and mistaken as flu. If not treated immediately, some strains of Malaria can rapidly progress to severe illness or death. There are different strains of Malaria with some strains able to cause rapid progression to kidney failure, lung failure, and shock.
Some people are at a greater risk of contracting Malaria or having a more severe illness caused by Malaria. This includes:
- Pregnant Women
- People with HIV/AIDS
- People with other health problems
- People without a spleen
- Non-immune travelers
Malaria still is an enormous global problem, causing almost 500,000 deaths in 2015 and over 200 million cases of Malaria.
The risk for Malaria in travelers is through infected mosquito bites. The Anopheles mosquitoes that spread Malaria bite between dusk and dawn. The Anopheles mosquitoes lay their eggs in water such as in areas with free-standing water, puddles, plant pots, tires, etc. The mosquito in Africa in particular has a stronger human-biting habit and even has a longer lifespan which is another reason of an increased risk in that area.
Rainfall, temperature, and other conditions can also impact Malaria transmission. Malaria epidemics can occur suddenly when such factors fall into favor of increased transmission.
Malaria prevention is through what’s called “chemoprophylaxis”, meaning taking antimalarial medications. The Malaria parasite is released into the blood stream once bitten by an infected mosquito and then later reproduces in the liver. Then it infects the red blood cells, kills the blood cells, and then moves on to uninfected blood cells.
Antimalarial medication suppresses the blood stage of the malaria infection, thus preventing the malaria disease. It is important to see a travel medicine specialist to get the correct prescription for you and your itinerary. Some parts of the world have developed resistance to certain antimalarial medication. Our clinicians can provide itinerary specific malaria chemoprophylaxis.
Malaria prescriptions are more effective when taken properly following directions. We will provide education on instructions on how to take your prescription safely and effectively. Malaria medication should be used in conjunction with mosquito prevention measures. Our travel medicine providers will also review mosquito prevention measures to decrease your risk for Malaria as much as possible.
- Malaria infection is a risk in tropical and sub-tropical countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Malaria can be a life-threatening infection
- Malaria can be prevented with the correct precautions and medications
- Malaria medication should be prescribed by a travel medicine specialist
- Malaria medication needs to be started before you arrive in the risk area, so travelers should see a travel medicine specialist as soon as they know their itinerary
- Where there is Malaria, there is often other infections that are vaccine-preventable. The Vaccine Center carries all vaccines available in the U.S. and can provide those in conjunction with your prescription
The Vaccine Center and Travel Medicine Clinic has ALL the recommended and/or required vaccines needed for your travel:
|Hepatitis B||TD/Tdap (Tetanus)|
|Hepatitis A/B||Typhoid IM|