What is malaria?
Malaria is a serious tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. When they sting, a parasite they carry is transferred to your blood. If it is not diagnosed and properly treated it can be fatal. Malaria can be treated, but certain types of the disease can recur, affecting you for life. This is why prevention is so important if you are travelling to a malaria risk area.
How is malaria spread?
Malaria is spread by female mosquitoes (Anopheles) who have the plasmodium parasite in their saliva from previously biting an infected person. If an infected mosquito bites your skin the parasite then passes into your bloodstream. Very rarely, malaria has been spread through blood transfusion, organ transplant and shared needles. Mothers can also transmit it to their unborn baby.
Stopping mosquitoes from biting you is the first way to prevent malaria – wear long-sleeved clothes in the evening when mosquitoes are most active, and wear 70% DEET insect repellent.
If you are stung, the only way to avoid malaria is if you have been taking anti-malaria tablets. You must start taking these before reaching the malaria risk area for them to be most effective.
Which malaria tablets to choose
The treatment you need depends on where you are travelling. Visit Fit For Travel and search your destination – this will tell you which active ingredients are effective against the malaria in that region. If you are travelling a long way, you may need more than one type of tablet.
Malaria tablets from our malaria clinic
Request the pack size you require, based on the length of your trip, and complete your consultation questionnaire. We will use this information to assess whether the requested treatment is safe and suitable for you to take. Select collection or delivery at checkout.
Doctor's malaria advice
Malaria tablets are essential if you are visiting a country affected by malaria. Make sure you order the right amount for your trip – you cannot order tablets for other people using our service, they must request these separately for safety. We recommend you carry essential medicines in your hand luggage, just in case your bag is lost.
Other travel essentials to avoid malaria are DEET (70%), long clothes to wear in the evening, and a mosquito net treated with insect repellent.
Symptoms of malaria
Malaria symptoms are similar to flu: high fever, chills and sweats, vomiting, muscle pains, diarrhoea, and headaches. You should seek medical help immediately if you think you have malaria, whether this is during your trip or for a year after a visit to a malaria area. Malaria can be treated, but it may recur.
Avoiding traveller's diarrhoea can be difficult in countries where you can't trust the water supply or hygiene of food and drink preparation. Risks are posed by tap water, ice in drinks, salads, cold dairy, undercooked meat and food that's been handled already (like peeled fruit). Stay safe with drinks that are boiled or otherwise purified, food that is well cooked and wash your hands with soap regularly. If you do experience problems, stick to a plain diet, drink lots of fluids and use rehydration salts until the illness passes.
If you're going to be crossing time zones, it's likely you'll experience jet lag in some degree, and so experience unpleasant symptoms of fatigue and disorientation.
Visit our jet lag clinic for advice on how to manage the symptoms, plus prescription treatment that can help you to avoid lag altogether.