The ultimate guide for preventing malaria while traveling The ultimate guide for preventing malaria while traveling

Rare in Europe and the UK, malaria is a disease that causes a high fever, chills, and muscle pain. More commonly found in Africa, Central America, South America, and Asia, it’s spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes. Whenever cases are reported in the UK or other western countries, it’s usually because of recent travel to areas where malaria is found. 

A person gets malaria when they’re bitten by a mosquito that’s infected with malaria parasites. There are five species of parasites that can infect humans with malaria and cause illness:

  • Plasmodium falciparum (or P. falciparum)
  • Plasmodium malariae (or P. malariae)
  • Plasmodium vivax (or P. vivax)
  • Plasmodium ovale (or P. ovale)
  • Plasmodium knowlesi (or P. knowlesi)

Plasmodium falciparum malaria is potentially life-threatening. Patients with severe falciparum malaria may develop liver and kidney failure, convulsions, and coma. Although occasionally severe, infections with P. vivax and P. ovale generally cause less serious illness, but the parasites can remain dormant in the liver for many months, causing a reappearance of symptoms months or even years later.

Causes of Malaria 

Malaria isn’t spread by all types of mosquitoes. Only an infected anopheles mosquito can give a person the malaria virus. This type of mosquito becomes infected after biting an infected animal or person. Whoever they bite after that will then become infected. You can’t get infected by being near someone with malaria or through droplets in the air. 

People who are frequently exposed to the bites of mosquitoes infected with malaria are most at risk of dying from it. Young children, the elderly, and pregnant women are also at a higher risk of suffering severe complications or death. Those with limited access to healthcare are also more susceptible to serious illness and/or death. This is why most malaria deaths occur in developing regions. 

Symptoms of Malaria 

Once infected, the symptoms of malaria will start to appear after 10 days, but it can take up to a month for symptoms to start. In rarer cases, a person may become ill after just a week or not until months after the initial infection. 

This incubation period may be longer if you are taking medicine to prevent infection like antimalarials. How severe the malaria symptoms become will vary depending on age, general health, and the type of malaria parasite involved. 

At first, most people will have flu like symptoms such as: 

  • Fever
  • Sweats
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Muscles aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • A general feeling of being unwell

The disease may not get worse than this initial stage, with the symptoms clearing up without any major complications. However, malaria can very rapidly become a severe and life-threatening disease. It’s also not uncommon for the symptoms of malaria to come and go in cycles, with the symptoms increasingly becoming worse each cycle. 

If the malaria infection progresses, symptoms like anaemia, jaundice, kidney failure, seizures, coma, and death may occur. 

Malaria Diagnosis 

If you or your doctor suspect you have malaria, a physical exam will be carried out alongside questions about your recent activities like international travel. A blood smear or test will be able to definitively diagnose a malaria infection. 

Other tests used to diagnose malaria are

  • Complete blood counts (CBCs)
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests
  • Blood glucose tests

Prevention of Malaria 

If you’re going to be travelling or working in a region where malaria is a risk, you need to protect yourself from infection. Malaria doesn’t have a cure and many of the areas where malaria is common do not have access to immediate or comprehensive medical care. That’s why the best treatment is prevention. 

The two most effective ways to prevent malaria are through medications like antimalarials and by taking measures to keep yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes. 

To avoid mosquito bites, you should wear long sleeves and pants, closed toe shoes, and wear a hat (ideally one with a net covering your face). Liberally spray yourself and clothing with mosquito repellent. Don’t spend too much time around standing water or areas where mosquitoes are frequently found. 

When indoors, make sure all windows and doors are shut and that they have intact, functioning nets. Any gaps or holes in the walls or windowsills will need to be covered. At night you should sleep under a mosquito net. 

In addition to these precautions, you can take effective medications known as antimalarials. For them to have the best chance of preventing a malaria infection, you will need to start taking them 4-6 weeks before your intended travel. Malaria drugs and antimalarials can also be used as a treatment of malaria post-infection. However, even last-minute travellers can benefit from taking antimalarials at any point prior or during their trip. 

You will still need to take preventative measures against mosquito bites if you are taking anti-malarial medications. 

Malaria Drugs from Pharmacy Planet

Before your trip abroad, contact Pharmacy Planet to get malaria drugs to keep you and your loved ones safe from malaria. In our online Pharmacy you’ll find effective antimalarials like Malarone, Lariam, and Doxycycline Anti-malarials

  • Malarone: Malarone tablets can be used to prevent malaria and to treat active infections, even more resistant strains. This medication works by preventing the malaria parasite from reproducing and spreading. Malarone is one of the best known antimalarials and will need to be taken daily before, during, and after your trip.
  • Lariam: Lariam is an effective antimalarial tablet that is taken once per week before, during, and for 4 weeks after your trip. It’s important to take it post travel to cover the incubation period of the malaria virus.
  • Doxycycline: Doxycycline Anti-malarial is an antibiotic from the tetracycline group that can also be used to prevent and treat malaria.

As a leading online pharmacy in the UK, we can provide our customers and patients with a wide range of medications, treatments, and medical supplies. Whatever it is you and your loved ones need to stay happy and healthy, Pharmacy Planet can help.