Malaria is a common tropical disease that can be fatal if not treated promptly. The disease is spread through mosquito bites, with symptoms usually developing between 10 and 15 days later. Symptoms most commonly include a high fever, headaches, vomiting, cold sweats, muscle pain and diarrhoea. For more information on how to diagnose malaria, visit the NHS choices page, although if in doubt, you should always seek medical help from a qualified doctor.
How to avoid malaria
Given how serious the effects of malaria can be, it’s essential for you to take precautionary measures when travelling to high-risk areas. The best way to avoid contracting malaria is to minimise your chances of being bitten; bring along spray repellents, mosquito nets and long-sleeved nightwear to keep the mozzies at bay.
Antimalarial tablets help you avoid getting malaria, but are not always effective. In the UK, you can buy some over-the-counter medication, whereas other preventative drugs require a prescription.
Determining the right antimalarial drug for you will depend on various factors including your age, your destination and your medical history. Sometimes, it’s necessary for you to take a trial course before travelling to see how you respond to the medication. It is very important that you stick to the prescribed dose. You will need to start taking antimalarials before you travel, and usually for up to four weeks after you return.
Always consult your doctor before taking new courses of medication. To find out more on illnesses abroad, visit our page on what to do if you fall ill.