Healthy Traveler: Travel and Health Information from Quest Specialty Travel
of risk for the individual traveler as well as any
associated public health.
Malaria: A Serious Health Risk for
Each year an estimated 8 million North Americans
travel to countries where malaria is common.
Transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito,
malaria is a serious and potentially fatal infectious
disease that is characterized by headaches, fever, chills,
Malaria occurs mostly in poor tropical and
subtropical areas of the world. In many of the
countries affected by malaria, it is a leading
cause of illness and death. In areas with high
transmission, the most vulnerable groups are
young children, who have not developed
immunity to malaria yet, and pregnant
women, whose immunity has been decreased
According to the Centers for Disease Control, malaria
can usually be prevented if travelers to tropical and
subtropical regions follow these preventive steps:
First, inform yourself about the risk of acquiring
malaria in the region of the world where you plan to
travel. Malaria exists throughout the tropics, but it is
most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria hotspots
change constantly, so check with a travel medicine
specialist or the Centers for Disease Control for the
latest developments before you travel.
Second, take measures to prevent mosquito bites,
particularly between dusk and dawn. Always sleep in a
well-screened room, preferably under a mosquito net
that has been treated with insecticide. During the
evening, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and
apply an insect repellent that contains DEET.
Finally, consult your physician or a travel medicine
specialist several weeks prior to departure for advice
on taking antimalarial drugs. Prophylaxis drugs need to
be taken continuously, beginning before travel
commences and continuing through up to four weeks
after leaving malaria-endemic areas.
Even if you take antimalarial pills, it is still possible to
get malaria, so seek medical treatment promptly if you
experience flu-like symptoms and are in or have
recently visited an area where malaria is present. For
more information on malaria prevention and other
travel health issues, check out the Centers for Disease
Control on the Internet at www.cdc.gov/travel.