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How can I Travel Safely in Malaria Zones?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 17, 2024
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Malaria is a serious disease caused when a person is infected with a parasite that is transmitted by mosquitoes. For this reason, it is very important for travelers in malaria zones to limit their exposure to these insects. To do this, a person should wear protective apparel and insect repellent. The individual should discourage mosquitoes from coming indoors by using repellents, controlling temperature, and keeping doors and windows closed if they do not have screens. It can also be a major benefit to take anti-malaria drugs if the circumstances allow for it.

Before traveling to malaria zones, it is advisable to take anti-malaria drugs. These are generally available only by prescription. There are several types that are available, and some may not be suitable for a particular set of circumstances. For this reason, it is important for a traveler to discuss all aspect of her travels and her medical history with the physician who will write her prescription. It is also important to remember that many of these medicines need to be taken weeks in advance to be effective.

While traveling in the malaria zones, a person should try to protect himself as much as possible at all times. He can do this by developing a habit of thoroughly spraying himself with insect repellent. This may need to be done several times in a day. Travelers are also advised to wear clothing that sufficiently protects them from mosquito bites. This can include pants, long-sleeved shirts, and shoes that completely cover the feet.

When in malaria zones, it is beneficial to make every possible effort to keep mosquitoes outdoors. Windows and doors should not be unnecessarily left open if they do not have proper screens. There are also a number of products that may be available to prevent these insects from entering or to kill them if they come inside. These products are commonly available in the form of sprays and incense.

Using air conditioning to keep the interior at a low temperature can discourage mosquitoes from entering and circulating. It is also a good idea to use bed netting. If possible, it is recommended that the netting is the type that has been dipped in permethrin insecticide. Before the bed is covered with the net, it may be best to spray the area with insect repellent if there is a possibility that the insects have gotten into the room. Otherwise, they may get trapped inside of the net.

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Discussion Comments
By lluviaporos — On Dec 16, 2011

@bythewell - That is one of the tragedies of hot and poor countries, that they have to deal with malaria. Since it's a chronic disease, it makes it very difficult to work.

And the real tragedy is, it's so preventable. If there was a concerted international effort made, it could be eliminated, like small pox was. It would be more difficult, of course, since mosquitoes can be hard to prevent. But, you know malaria used to be present in places like Florida, and it's not anymore. Getting rid of the disease (and preventing yourself from suffering from it when visiting other countries) is certainly possible.

By bythewell — On Dec 16, 2011

@irontoenail - I've had someone I was traveling with come down with malaria as well, and it was terrifying. We thought she was just suffering from the flu at first, because it didn't seem that bad until she basically started to fall unconscious. Then, when we took her temperature we realized she was burning up.

Unfortunately, we didn't have anti-malarial pills handy (aside from our prophylactics) and in the end we had to take her to a local hospital so she could have a dose of quinine.

She told us that the quinine was worse than the malaria and we were really worried she would actually die from it.

You just hardly ever experience that kind of fear in the Western world, because we don't get sick all that often. It made it that much sadder that the people around us had to suffer from it all the time.

By irontoenail — On Dec 16, 2011

You might see the people around you in the malarial zone, who have chronic malaria and don't seem all that affected by it and think, oh well it's not that bad. After all, it's curable now, so even if you do get it, it won't be permanent.

But you need to remember, if you aren't from a place that has malaria, you don't have any kind of natural immunity to it. I lived in an area with malaria and, while I was lucky enough not to get it myself, I had a friend who did and she almost died. She wasn't local, and she had no immunity and it hit her so quickly we barely had time to get her to a hospital. You're probably going to be in the middle of nowhere, so an ambulance isn't an option.

My point is, take your malaria medication every single day. Don't think, oh well, it's not really vital. It is vital. It's life or death.

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