Note: Country specific malaria information and malaria maps are available via Destinations.
- Awareness of Risk
- Bite prevention
- Chemoprophylaxis (taking malaria prevention tablets)
- Diagnosis and treatment
- Standby Emergency Treatment for Malaria
Malaria is widespread in many tropical and subtropical countries and is a serious and sometimes fatal disease. You cannot be vaccinated against malaria, but you can protect yourself against this disease using the A, B, C, D approach to prevention as follows:
Find out if there is a risk of malaria in the country you intend to visit by accessing country specific malaria information and malaria maps via our Destinations section. Note that the risk of malaria can vary between and within countries and depending on the time of year you are travelling.
Mosquito bite avoidance is essential; no malaria tablet is considered 100% effective. Take practical measures to avoid mosquito bites:
- Avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes that transmit malaria typically bite after sunset, however, day biting mosquitoes transmit other diseases, bite avoidance should therefore be practiced at all times.
- Wearing loose long-sleeved clothing and long trousers can help prevent bites.
- Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spray an insecticide or repellent on them. Insect repellents should also be used on exposed skin.
- Spraying insecticides in the room, burning pyrethroid coils and heating insecticide impregnated tablets all help to control mosquitoes.
- If sleeping in an unscreened room, or out of doors, a mosquito net impregnated with insecticide is a sensible precaution. Portable, lightweight nets are available.
Garlic, Vitamin B and ultrasound devices do not prevent bites.
See Mosquito Bite Avoidance for more detailed information.
Find out if malaria prevention tablets are advisable for the country you intend to visit via our Destinations section.
It is important to discuss malaria prevention tablets suitability with a qualified doctor, nurse or pharmacist. Ensure that you can tolerate the recommended tablets and that they are appropriate for your destination(s). Remember no malaria prevention tablets are considered 100% effective.
Taking Antimalarial Tablets:
- Start before arrival to a risk area as guided by your travel health advisor (with some tablets you should start three weeks before).
- Take the tablets regularly and as directed.
- It is extremely important to continue taking these tablets as directed after you have left the malaria area to cover the incubation period of the disease.
- In the UK, Chloroquine and/or Proguanil can be purchased from local pharmacies.
- Atovaquone/Proguanil is also available, with some restrictions, in pharmacies.
All other drugs require a prescription.
Further information on the commonly used drugs can be found via the following links:
If you think you might have malaria it is very important to seek medical attention urgently as the most serious forms of disease can become life-threatening within 24 hours. The most serious form of malaria usually occurs between 6 - 30 days (and occasionally longer) after exposure.
Symptoms usually include fever, shivering and sweating; muscle pains, headache and vomiting are common. Symptoms are often described as ‘flu-like’ and can be accompanied by a variety of other symptoms. If in doubt, seek advice and seek it quickly.
If you get a fever between one week after first potential exposure and up to one year after your return from a country with malaria you should seek medical attention urgently and tell the doctor that you have been in a malaria risk area.
If you are travelling to remote areas where you will be unable to access medical care promptly or an area where available medical facilities may be poor, you may be advised to carry a course of standby emergency treatment for malaria.
Standby emergency treatment is not a replacement for taking malaria prevention tablets when travelling to a country with a risk of malaria.
For further information please see our Standby Emergency Treatment for Malaria section.