Tips to Prevent Malaria while Traveling Abroad

Malaria vaccine

In humans, malaria is the result of exposure to one of four different protozoan species. Each of the four species has to be transmitted by an infected, female mosquito. There are some situations where the transmission of malaria occurs congenitally (from the mother to a fetus) or by blood transfusion.

Signs and Symptoms of Malaria

A fever and flu-like symptoms such as body aches, fatigue, headache, and chills are the main indications of malaria. The symptoms experienced are often seen in intervals interspaced with periods of feeling well. Malaria is also associated with rupture of the red blood cells which then causes jaundice and anemia and can even result in kidney failure. In severe cases, the infected person can proceed on to coma and eventually, death.

It is important to note, deaths that result from malaria are completely preventable. The risk associated with a traveler acquiring Malaria varies quite a bit from one region within a country to another. A professional from the Travel and Immunization Clinic of Kansas City can help you figure out your specific risk, and advise ways to prevent you from getting malaria..

Preventing Malaria

Unfortunately, there is still no drug that offers complete protection from malaria; so in order to prevent the infection, a person needs to take antimalarial medication and take steps to avoid mosquito bites.

It is important to note, the mosquitoes carrying malaria typically have nocturnal feeding schedules. This means the transmission of malaria will typically be the highest between the hours of dusk and dawn.

It is also important to take steps to prevent mosquito bites. Some preventative steps to take include:

  • Remain in air conditioned and well-screened areas when possible
  • Use mosquito nets when sleeping in open air area, and apply permethrin to the mosquito nets
  • Using insecticides in open air sleeping and living areas
  • Utilizing personal insect repellents that contain the correct levels of DEET
  • Wear clothing that has been treated with permethrin and that covers as much skin as possible

The Travel and Immunization Clinic of Kansas City offers high-quality insect repellents for travelers to purchase.

Drugs that Help Prevent Malaria

The majority of antimalarial drugs work in a person’s bloodstream to prevent the development of parasites in the red blood cells. Regardless of how long a person is going to be in an infected area, proper preventative anti-malarial medications should be used by all travelers.

It is essential for the anti-malarial medications to be taken consistently, which includes before, during and after visiting the malaria risk area. This will ensure that there is an adequate level of the drug in the blood to eradicate the malaria organism if you are bitten by an infected mosquito. Since antimalarial drugs won’t actually prevent the introduction of the parasites into the bloodstream, taking the medication after leaving the risk area is necessary to ensure that any remaining parasites are totally eliminated.

A Travel and Immunization Clinic of Kansas City specialist will provide advise you regarding the which antimalarial drug should be taken for your particular destination and personal health circumstances.

What to Do after Leaving a Malaria Infected Area?

Even if the proper medications are used and mosquito bite preventive steps were taken, there is still a very small chance of contracting malaria while traveling, and to become ill after leaving the risk area. Because of this, any traveler who returns home with a febrile illness needs to seek medical attention immediately. If diagnosing the illness is delayed, there is a chance that the illness could be malaria, and without the proper treatment, malaria can be a life threatening disease.

If you want to learn more about malaria prevention and how to prepare for your travels abroad, contact the immunization and travel medicine professionals atthe Travel and Immunization Clinic of Kansas City.