FAQ's: What Should Travelers Do
to Protect Themselves Against Malaria?


  1. Westerners who visit malarious countries, however briefly, are not immune! Several thousand return home from travels each year and are hospitalized with malaria. Travelers have contracted "airport malaria" while waiting on planes that were being refueled in malarious areas. Expatriates and soldiers who live abroad are at even greater risk. Malaria was the number one cause of hospitalization among American troops deployed to Somalia; the number two cause among troops in Vietnam (after combat injury); and a leading cause among diplomats, missionaries and aid workers.
  2. The risks to travelers vary. Some parts of the world, such as southern Mexico and Central America, pose a low malaria risk while others, such as most parts of subSaharan Africa, pose a high risk. In other areas, the risk is seasonal. The reason for the variation in risk is because different species of malaria occur in different parts of the world and because sometimes malaria is common whereas in other places malaria exists, but is not extremely common.
  3. Malaria prevention is a medical matter and should be handled by a physician who is qualified in infectious diseases, tropical medicine, or travel health. Always consult a travel health professional such as a tropical medicine clinic or travel medicine specialist before traveling to subSaharan Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, or tropical South and Central America.
  4. Your travel health specialist will give you valuable advice and immunizations for the conditions existing at your destination, as well as advice on malaria prevention.
  5. Use a mosquito repellent on exposed skin during dusk and night hours if you are in an area that has malaria.
  6. Pack a mosquito net that has been impregnated with Permethrin, which is sold as Permanone if you are travelling to an area that has malaria. Your physician or travel health clinic will be able to assist if you do not know whether the area has malaria or not.
  7. Links to many other travel advisory sites may be found at the MFI Travel Advisory page.

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Malaria Foundation International
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