Malaria is caused by 4 types of Plasmodium parasites. It is spread by infected mosquitos that generally bite from dusk to dawn. When the mosquito bites it infects a person with malaria parasites which travel to the liver and can lie dormant for about 7 to 30 days. When the parasites mature, they leave the liver and infect red blood cells. This is typically when signs and symptoms of malaria occur.
Symptoms of malaria are similar to influenza and can cause fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue which usually occur at intervals. Uncomplicated malaria can also cause anemia and jaundice. If not treated promptly malaria can become life-threatening leading to swelling of the brain, seizures, kidney failure, breathing difficulties, coma and death. Some types of malaria can relapse weeks or months after infection.
How can I prevent Malaria?
The best way to prevent malaria is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes:
- Wear light-coloured long sleeves and pants at dusk and dawn
- Apply insect repellent with 30% DEET or 20% Icaridin onto exposed areas of skin
- Sleep in accommodation with air conditioning or window screens, or use a Permethrin impregnated bed net
- Take your anti-malarial medication as prescribed.
Who should take anti-malarial medication?
- Travelers spending the night in high risk malaria areas
- Travelers to moderate risk malaria areas depending on length and type of travel
Anti-malarial medication schedules:
- Malarone: daily beginning 1 day before entering risk area, daily while at risk, daily for 7 days after leaving risk area.
- Doxycycline: daily beginning 2 days before entering risk area, daily while at risk, daily for 28 days after leaving risk area.
- Chloroquine: weekly beginning 1 week before entering risk area, once weekly while at risk, once weekly for 4 weeks after leaving risk area.
- Mefloquine: weekly beginning 2 weeks before entering risk area, once weekly while at risk, once weekly for 4 weeks after leaving risk area.
- Primaquine (for presumptive antirelapse therapy): daily for 14 days after leaving risk area.
Call us at 604-251-1975 to arrange an appointment or to receive further information about malaria.
Visit our Kitsilano clinic for a pre-travel consultation and vaccinations to protect your health.
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