malaria involves protecting yourself against mosquito
bites and taking antimalarial medicines. But public health officials strongly
recommend that young children and pregnant women avoid traveling to areas where
malaria is common.
The most current information about
malaria is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
and the World Health Organization (WHO). If you are planning international
travel, you can learn about the risk of malaria in that geographic area and the
medicines recommended to prevent infection by contacting:
- The CDC at its toll-free phone number (1-800-232-4636) or
- Your doctor or local
Prevent mosquito bites
To prevent mosquito bites,
follow these guidelines:
- Stay inside when it is dark outside, preferably in a screened or air-conditioned room.
- Wear protective
clothing (long pants and long-sleeved shirts).
- Use insect repellent with DEET (N,N diethylmetatoluamide).
The repellent is available in varying strengths up to 100%. In young children,
use a preparation containing less than 24% strength, because too much of the
chemical can be absorbed through the skin.
- Use bed nets (mosquito netting) sprayed with or soaked in an
insecticide such as permethrin or deltamethrin. But make sure that these insecticides still work against the mosquitoes where you are. In some areas, mosquitoes have become resistant to permethrin and deltamethrin. So the bed nets do not offer much protection.4
- Use flying-insect
spray indoors around sleeping areas.
- Avoid areas where malaria and
mosquitoes are present if you are at higher risk (for example, if you are
pregnant, very young, or very old).
Other steps that may be helpful in reducing the risk of
malaria include using air conditioning and electric fans, wearing protective
clothing, using aerosol insecticides in your house, and taking certain
Medicines to prevent malaria
The selection of
medicines to prevent malaria depends on the
geographic region where you may be exposed to malaria
and your health condition (such as being pregnant, being elderly or young,
being sick, or having immunity or resistance to malaria, or having allergies or
sensitivity to the medicine).
If you are going to a location
where malaria is present, it is very important to take preventive medicines and
to follow the correct schedule for taking them. The majority of people who
become infected with malaria do not take preventive malaria medicines or do not
follow the correct dosing schedule.
- Medicine to prevent malaria is most effective
if you take the recommended dosage exactly as prescribed and for the length of
- If you are to take the medicine once a week, take it
on the same day of the week each week.
- Upon returning from an area
where malaria is present, continue the medicine for the recommended length of
time to ensure that all parasites have been eliminated from your body. You will
need to take the medicine for 1 to 4 weeks after returning.