Table of Contents

What is Malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite from mosquito bites.  The infection often results in symptoms similar to flu such as high fever, chills, and body aches.  Without treatment, the illness can be life threatening requiring hospitalization and even death.

Where is Malaria Found?

Don’t take the risk lightly!  Transmission occurs in over 90 countries and infects 210 million people annually resulting in nearly 500,000 deaths.  Malaria occurs in parts of Central America, South America, Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. It’s important for all travelers to know their risk before international trips.  

The disease is more common in areas outside of urban centers, but infection can still happen in cities and is dependent on recent rainfall and standing water where larvae hatch.

Malaria infects people from a mosquito bite and is found in over 90 countries around the world. Don't leave for your trip unaware of your risk, talk to your travel health specialist if malaria medication is needed.
If you have plans to take a safari to Africa remember to seek health advice about malaria. Prevention medication is available by prescription

How Do I Protect Myself Against Malaria?

Currently, there is no vaccine for malaria and the best prevention is avoiding mosquito bites and taking medication as prescribed.  Prevention medication is taken by mouth and is dispensed by a pharmacy.

No malaria medication is 100% effective, so it’s still important to apply insect repellants on exposed skin that contain DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (active ingredient OLE or PMD). These have been tested and proven to be highly effective against mosquito bites. 

A different type of insect repellant for clothing is called permethrin.  Treatment of clothing with permethrin can have a repellant effect for several weeks after application. Additionally, wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and shoes to avoid bites whenever possible.

What Medications are Available for Prevention?

Choosing a malaria medication that is right for you depends on the country you plan to visit, your age, and your health history.  Consequently, your appointment with Destination Health involves discussing medication options including:

  • Atovaquone-proguanil (Malarone) 
  • Doxycycline
  • Chloroquine phosphate 
  • Mefloquine

Each medication has benefits and drawbacks and some are taken daily and others weekly.  A full discussion on malaria and medication options will be provided during an appointment.  Keep in mind, malaria pills do not protect against other mosquito diseases like Yellow Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, or Dengue Fever.

Where Can I Get Malaria Medication for My International Trip?

Destination Health Travel Clinic will advise you about malaria risk for your trip and provide a prescription medication if indicated by CDC.  Our three Massachusetts locations offer free parking and helpful staff; schedule your appointment now at the Braintree – South Shore clinic, the Natick  Framingham clinic, or the  Springfield – Longmeadow clinic

Other Common Travel Health Topics 

A pre-travel health consultation will help you prepare for your travels abroad.  Learn more about other common travel related diseases including Traveler’s Diarrhea, High Altitude Illness, and Travel Vaccinations.

Schedule an appointment online anytime or call our office Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm.