How to Protect Yourself from Malaria

A single bite from the mosquito is all it takes for someone to become infected.

Updated: Tuesday 14 June 2022

malaria protection

Malaria is a serious and potentially fatal disease which is caused by the plasmodium parasite which infects a female Anopheles mosquito and feeds on humans. A single bite from the mosquito is all it takes for someone to become infected. Last year it was estimated that there were around 199 million malaria cases and around 584,000 deaths. The good news is that malaria can often be preventable and treatable.


If you are travelling to a high-risk area, then you should be aware of the symptoms of malaria. The symptoms usually appear 10 days to 4 weeks after becoming infected. These include:

  • High temperature / fever
  • Sweats
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pains
  • Diarrhoea

Malaria symptoms often occur in 48-hour cycles called malaria attacks. An attack usually starts with shivers and chills which will develop into a fever accompanied by severe shivering and fatigue and a return back to normal temperature. These symptoms will usually last 6-12 hours. Since the signs of malaria are similar to cold or flu symptoms, it might be difficult to know what you have at first. A blood test will confirm whether or not you have malaria.

Countries that are most affected

The majority of malaria cases are recorded in tropical and subtropical countries. The warmer temperatures give the opportunity for the Anopheles mosquitos to thrive. The parasites which infect the mosquitos need the warmth to grow before they are mature enough to be transmitted to humans.

In 2017, nearly half of the world’s population was at risk of malaria. It occurs in around 100 countries mainly in:

  • Large parts of Africa
  • Parts of Central and South America
  • Parts of The Caribbean, Southeast Asia
  • The Middle East
  • Oceania

Who is most vulnerable?

  • Children who have not developed a partial immunity to malaria.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Travellers or migrants who lack immunity and come from areas with little or no malaria transmission.


Although you can’t be vaccinated against malaria, you can protect yourself against the disease using the A B C D approach.

  • A - Awareness of Risk.
    Find out information about malaria, the causes, symptoms and whether you are at risk in the area you’re travelling in.
  • B – Bite Prevention.
    Reducing the number of bites will reduce your chances of contracting malaria. Take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites. These include using insect repellent on your clothes and on exposed skin, using bed nets and wearing light loose-fitting clothing and long trousers.
  • C – Chemoprophylaxis.
    Take the medicine exactly as prescribed. Depending on where you are travelling, you should check whether you need to need to use malaria prevention tablets to reduce the risk of contracting malaria if you are bitten. Not all antimalarial medications are suitable for all areas, this is because the malaria parasite has built up resistance to some of the drugs. Since some medications require a prescription and some may be required to be taken 3 weeks before travelling, you should leave enough time to get it all sorted out.
  • D – Diagnosis.
    If you experience any malaria symptoms up to a year after your travels you should seek medical help. Once you have undergone a proper diagnosis, it will ensure you get the right treatment which will improve your chances of recovery, if you are diagnosed with malaria.

Antimalarial Medication

To offer maximum protection against malaria, you should consider taking antimalarial medication. There are a variety of antimalaria medications which can be taken:

Malarone Doxycycline Lariam
How many tablets to take One tablet a day One tablet a day One tablet a week
How long do I take it before travelling? 1-2 days 1-2 days 2-3 weeks
How long do I take it after travelling? 7 days 4 weeks 4 weeks

If you have any questions regarding antimalarial mediation, do not hesitate to contact one of our pharmacists at Pharmica who will be able to tell you all the treatment options we have available and discuss which one will be suitable for your travels.

Although there is no vaccine available to treat malaria, you should always be aware of the risk of developing any other diseases before you travel. You should always ensure you are vaccinated with the correct vaccine. Central Travel Clinic offers a full range of travel vaccinations for any destination. They provide support, advice and health care services before, during and after your trip.

Toby Watson

Written by: Toby Watson

Pharmica Medical Writer

Toby (BSc) is an experienced medical writer, producing educational articles on many areas of health including sexual health, fitness, nutrition and mental health.

He particularly enjoys debunking misconceptions around heath conditions and their treatments, researching each topic in detail and writing easily-accessible content.

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Malaria: Protection, Precautions, and Treatment
Malaria: Protection, Precautions, and Treatment