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Prevention

There's a significant risk of getting malaria if you travel to an affected area. It's very important you take precautions to prevent the disease.

Malaria can often be avoided using the ABCD approach to prevention, which stands for:

These are outlined in more detail below.

Being aware of the risks

To check whether you need to take preventative malaria treatment for the countries you're visiting, see the Fit for Travel website.

It's also important to visit your GP or local travel clinic for malaria advice as soon as you know where you're going to be travelling.

Even if you grew up in a country where malaria is common, you still need to take precautions to protect yourself from infection if you're travelling to a risk area.

Nobody has complete immunity to malaria, and any level of natural protection you may have had is quickly lost when you move out of a risk area.

Preventing bites

It's not possible to avoid mosquito bites completely, but the less you're bitten, the less likely you are to get malaria.

To avoid being bitten:

There's no evidence to suggest homeopathic remedies, electronic buzzers, vitamins B1 or B12, garlic, yeast extract spread (such as Marmite), tea tree oils or bath oils offer any protection against mosquito bites.

Antimalarial tablets

There's currently no vaccine available that offers protection against malaria, so it's very important to take antimalarial medication to reduce your chances of getting the disease.

However, antimalarials only reduce your risk of infection by about 90%, so taking steps to avoid bites is also important.

When taking antimalarial medication:

Check with your GP to make sure you're prescribed a medication you can tolerate. You may be more at risk from side effects if you:

If you've taken antimalarial medication in the past, don't assume it's suitable for future trips. The antimalarial you need to take depends on which strain of malaria is carried by the mosquitoes and whether they're resistant to certain types of antimalarial medication.

In the UK, chloroquine and proguanil can be bought over-the-counter from local pharmacies. However, you should seek medical advice before buying it as it's rarely recommended nowadays. For all other antimalarial tablets, you'll need a prescription from your GP.

Read more about antimalarial medication, including the main types and when to take them.

Get immediate medical advice

You must seek medical help straight away if you become ill while travelling in an area where malaria is found, or after returning from travelling, even if you've been taking antimalarial tablets.

Malaria can get worse very quickly, so it's important that it's diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

If you develop symptoms of malaria while still taking antimalarial tablets, either while you're travelling or in the days and weeks after you return, remember to tell the doctor which type you have been taking. The same type of antimalarial shouldn't be used to treat you as well.

If you develop symptoms after returning home, visit your GP or a hospital doctor and tell them which countries you've travelled to in the last 12 months, including any brief stopovers.

DEET insect repellents

The chemical DEET is often used in insect repellents. It's not recommended for babies who are less than 2 months old.

DEET is safe for older children, adults and pregnant women if you follow the manufacturer's instructions: