Medicine can prevent malaria and is needed to treat the disease. Several things influence the choice of medicine, including:
- Whether the medicine is being used to prevent or to treat malaria.
- Your condition (such as your age or whether you are pregnant).
- How sick you are from malaria.
- Geographic location where you were exposed to malaria.
- Whether the malaria parasite may be resistant to certain medicines.
- Side effects of the medicine.
Malaria is rare in the United States. But it is widespread in other parts of the world. Find out about the risk for malaria before you travel internationally. The most accurate information about malaria risk and medicine resistance in specific countries is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
If you have malaria, medicine choice is based on:
- The specific parasite causing the infection.
- How bad the infection is.
- Your condition (such as age, pregnancy, allergies, or health problems).
- Medicine resistance of the parasite found in the geographic area where you were infected.
If you have been in an area where malaria occurs, were exposed to mosquitoes, and have flu-like symptoms, but tests do not show the malaria parasite in your blood, the tests should be repeated 3 or 4 times to confirm that you do not have a malaria infection. During treatment, tests are repeated to follow the course of the infection and to check whether the number of parasites is decreasing.
Your age and health condition are important factors in selecting a medicine to prevent or treat malaria. Pregnant women, children, people who are very old, people who have other health problems, and those who did not take medicine to prevent malaria infection require special consideration.