1. Check Your Risk
Before you embark on a trip abroad, you need to check whether there is a malaria risk at your holiday destination. You can use our handy country guide to find out whether you need to protect yourself from the malaria parasite.
If you’re still unsure, you may want to check with a specialist travel nurse, who can assess your risk. Not only the area you are travelling to but also the season during which you are travelling has an impact on your malaria risk. Mosquito numbers tend to explode during the rainy seasons, which means that the malaria risk is much higher during rainy season and just after.
2. Avoid Insect Bites
Mosquito bite avoidance is an easy but highly effective part of malaria prophylaxis. In some areas where the malaria risk is very low, it is not necessary to take antimalarials but insect bite avoidance is still important. Regardless of how high or low the malaria risk at your destination is, preventing bites is the key to staying healthy.
Make sure you:
- cover your skin, especially after dusk
- use insect repellents - not only on your skin but also to keep your accommodation free from mosquitoes
- use a bed net, which should also be treated with insect repellant
For more information read our tips for avoiding insect bites.
3. Take Malaria Tablets
Malaria tablets are essential for malaria prophylaxis in high risk areas. We offer three different types of malaria tablets:
Which tablets are right for may depend on where you are going - the malaria parasite in some parts of the world has become resistant to Lariam. Which medication suits you best also depends on how soon you are travelling and how you prefer to take your tablets.
Lariam for example only needs to be taken weekly (but has more side effects), while Malarone needs to be taken on a daily basis. It is important that you check which medication you need well in advance of travelling. Depending on which tablets you take you may need to start your course of malaria prevention tablets up to ten days before you enter a risk area.
Your prescribing doctor will also assess which tablets suit you best based on the activities you have planned for your trip as well as your general health and any other medications you are taking. If you're short of time you can order malaria tablets online from Superdrug.
What if my malaria prophylaxis fails?
If you take antimalarials and take care to avoid mosquito bites, it is very unlikely that you will catch malaria. However, there always remains a very small risk of infection. It is important that you bear this in mind, and that you are aware of the symptoms of malaria, so that you know when to act on these. Malaria can have a very long incubation time and it is possible to suffer from malaria months after exposure to the parasite. If you feel ill during your trip or during the following months you should visit a doctor and mention that you have recently visited a risk area, as you will require immediate treatment for malaria.
Is there a vaccination for malaria?
There is currently no vaccination for malaria but there is hope that a vaccine will become available in the coming years. A potential vaccine is currently being trialled in sub-Saharan Africa. If the vaccine proves effective, it will be recommended to people living in high risk areas in addition to other precautions.
For the time being, the safest way to prevent malaria is to take malaria tablets and avoid insect bites.