While many are hard at work trying to contain malaria, you need to take steps to proect yourself when traveling to any country where the disease is common: avoid mosquito bites and take preventive antimalarial drugs.
Avoiding Mosquito Bites
- Use an insect repellent on exposed skin to repel mosquitoes. EPA-registered repellents include products containing DEET (N,N-diethylmetatoluamide) and picaridin (KBR 3023). DEET concentrations of 30 percent to 50 percent are effective for several hours. Picaridin, available at 7 percent and 15 percent concentrations, needs more frequent application.
- DEET formulations as high as 50 percent are recommended for both adults and children over two months of age. Protect infants less than two months of age by using a carrier draped with mosquito netting with an elastic edge for a tight fit.
- When using sunscreen, apply it before your apply repellent. You should wash off the repellent before going to bed. Photo courtesy Amazon.com Using a bed mosquito net in areas where malaria is common is one way to prevent exposure.
- To cover exposed skin, wear long-sleeved shirts that are tucked in, long pants, and hats.
- Apply permethrin-containing repellents(such as Permanone) or other insect repellents to clothing, shoes, tents, mosquito nets and other gear for greater protection. Most repellent is generally removed from clothing and gear by a single washing, but permethrin-treated clothing is effective for up to five washings.
- Be aware that mosquitoes that transmit malaria are most active during twilight periods (dawn and dusk).
- Stay in air-conditioned or well-screened housing, and/or sleep under an insecticide-treated bed net. You should tuck bed nets under mattresses and spray them with a repellent if they are not already treated with an insecticide. Sources: National Center for Infectious Diseases, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine
Preventive Antimalarial Drugs
CDC maintains a Antimalarial Drug Web site that provides information on which antimalarial preventive drugs you should take when visiting countries where malaria is common. Visit it to learn what specific prescription drugs you will need and obtain them from a doctor before you leave. You can also read How Malaria Drugs Work for more information.
The CDC cautions against purchasing antimalarial drugs outside the United States as they may not be manufactured appropriately and may not be effective. Also, you should avoid counterfeit medications or drugs containing contaminants. Halofantrine (marketed as Halfan) should be avoided because it has serious heart-related side effects, including death.
For lots more information on malaria prevention and related topics, check out the links on the next page.