Malaria is a serious viral infection caused by the bite of an infected mosquito. There are four major types of Malaria virus: P. falciparum, P. vivax, P. ovale, and P. Malariae. Malaria symptoms can develop anytime from seven days to several months after you are infected.

What are the symptoms of Malaria?

Malaria symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain

Other less common symptoms include anemia and jaundice. The P. falciparum virus causes a severe form of Malaria that can be complicated with seizures, coma, kidney failure, respiratory failure, and sometimes death.

How can I get Malaria?

You can get Malaria from an infected Anopheles mosquito, which bites from dusk until dawn. Every year, up to 1,000 Canadian travellers get Malaria.

The risk of acquiring Malaria varies from traveller to traveller and from region to region. The risk increases in rural areas and decreases significantly at altitudes above 2,500 meters.

Where can I get Malaria?

Malaria is endemic in over 100 countries. Affected areas include sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, Oceania, New Guinea; Central and South America, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and parts of Mexico.

What drugs are available for Malaria?

There are several drugs, called Malaria prophylaxis, which can help prevent Malaria. A travel medicine specialist will prescribe Malaria prophylaxis for you based on your itinerary and your personal medical history. An individual risk assessment ensures you will receive the appropriate preventive anti-Malarial medication. Your fellow travellers may be prescribed a different anti-Malarial.

How can I prevent Malaria?

You can significantly decrease your risk of acquiring Malaria if you take the anti-Malarial medication that has been prescribed for you, following the dosing instructions carefully, and if you take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

To avoid mosquito bites, use insecticide aerosol sprays and insect repellents containing at least 30% DEET and take other preventive measures such as limiting your outdoor activities at night, wearing permethrin-treated clothing, and sleeping in screened or air-conditioned areas or under permethrin-treated mosquito nets. You can also burn mosquito coils at night if you are not sleeping in screened or air-conditioned areas.

Children travelling to Malaria-endemic areas are at particular risk, especially infants less than six years of age. Use additional protective measures such as self-standing mosquito nets that can be placed over a car seat, crib, playpen, or stroller.

What is the treatment for Malaria?

Almost all Malaria can be completely cured if it is diagnosed early and treated appropriately. However, even short delays in diagnosis can make treatment more difficult and the results less successful.

Find out more information on malaria from our Vancouver Travel Clinic or any of our other 18 Travel Clinic locations.