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Malaria Travel Guide: What Countries Have Malaria?

Reviewed by
Date published
25/04/2021
Date last updated
15/04/2021
Length of read
3 Minutes

Malaria is a serious disease spread by mosquitoes. It can be fatal if it’s not treated quickly.

While it only takes a single mosquito bite to become infected by malaria, there are treatments available and ways to prevent the disease being transmitted if you’re travelling to a high-risk country.

In this malaria travel guide, we will highlight what malaria is, which countries have malaria and what to do to protect yourself.

What is malaria?

Malaria is a tropical disease that can affect both humans and animals. It’s responsible for thousands of deaths each year. While the UK doesn’t have malaria, around 1,500 people still catch it when travelling abroad each year.

In short terms, malaria is caused by the bites of infected mosquitoes (only one species of mosquito transmits the infection). The parasites then enter your bloodstream. Medically speaking, malaria is known as an acute febrile illness, meaning that it’s characterised by a sudden fever.

Where can malaria be caught?

There are about 100 countries where malaria can be caught, meaning that almost half of the world’s population is at risk of becoming infected. Many of the cases of malaria being contracted are in Africa, with the disease most common in tropical destinations.

Malaria can be caught in:

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Central America
  • Haiti and the Dominican Republic
  • Parts of the Middle East
  • Some Pacific Islands

If you’re travelling to these parts of the world, it’s important to book an appointment with your doctor or travel nurse so that you can get a prescription for malaria tablets. Alternatively, you can purchase them online through us here at Express Pharmacy.

What are the symptoms of malaria?

You should be aware of the symptoms of malaria if you’re travelling to a high-risk area, so that you can seek medical treatment as soon as possible if you become infected:

  • High temperature of 38oC or above
  • Feeling hot and shivering
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Muscle pains
  • Headache

How is malaria prevented?

Anti-malaria tablets reduce your risk of contracting malaria, by as much as 90%, so you should plan in advance if you’re travelling to an area where malaria is a concern. If you’re pregnant, you should only travel to a country with a risk of malaria if it’s absolutely necessary, as it can cause severe complications for you and your unborn child.

Where possible, the following tips can help to prevent the risk of malaria:

  • Regularly apply maximum strength DEET-based insect repellent, which should contain 50% DEET (this stands for diethyltoluamide, the active ingredient in insect repellents).
  • Make sure you stay in air-conditioned accommodation and sleep under a mosquito net, taking plenty of care when you get in or out so that no mosquitoes get under the net.
  • Use a plug-in insect repellent in your room, although this may not be suitable if you are pregnant or if you’re travelling with children under the age of 8.
  • Wear loose-fitting, light-coloured clothes that cover as much of your skin as possible.
  • Wear shoes or boots that completely cover your feet and thick socks that you can tuck your trousers into to stop mosquitoes from entering.
  • Treat any clothing, mosquito nets, blankets and tents with a permethrin-based insect repellent.
  • Keep the doors and windows closed as much as possible, especially between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more common.

While some people who live in areas with high levels of malaria can develop partial immunity, it’s not permanent. If you have previously lived somewhere where malaria is common and poses a high risk, your immunity quickly disappears so you should still take plenty of precautions to protect yourself.

If you develop any of the symptoms of malaria, it’s vital that you speak to a doctor straight away as malaria can be treated if spotted early on.

It’s also worth noting that if you’ve taken anti malaria tablets before, you shouldn’t assume they will be suitable for future trips, as it depends on the strain of malaria and whether they’re resistant to the medication you have, so always speak to a doctor before taking these tablets.