Prevention and Treatment for Malaria

Insect bites can be itchy, annoying, painful and sometimes lead to serious disease or death. There are biting flies, ticks, fleas, hundreds of kinds of mosquitos and other bugs which are hunting for you and a few drops of your blood and can infect you with a variety of diseases when they find you. There are medicines or vaccines to reduce risk of some of these diseases but not all. And even when these preventatives exist, none is perfect. This advisory provides some information about illnesses like malaria and ways to help prevent them.


There are a large number of insect-borne diseases which you may face as a traveler, but malaria is the one usually most feared. This disease, caused by a microscopic parasite transmitted by night-biting mosquitos, causes fever, chills, sweats and can lead rapidly to death. It kills about 3 million people a year. There are a variety of medications which help prevent this disease--the choice depends upon where you are going, your medical history and budget. These are usually pills which are taken daily or weekly and usually start a few days or weeks before you enter the malaria area and continue for one to four weeks after leaving it. If malaria medication has been prescribed for you be sure to take it correctly. And don’t forget that some dangerous insects bite most frequently during the daytime.

Preventing Insect Bites:

1. Don’t attract them. Wear light-colored clothing--bugs are more attracted to dark colors. Avoid scented soaps, lotions, perfumes etc.

2. Put up barriers. Clothing that covers as much skin as possible helps, although it may be uncomfortable in hot climates. Mosquito netting is available to use with a hat, to protect face and neck. Mosquito nets for beds are very important if you are not in air-conditioned or well screened rooms. Nets should be treated with insecticide like permethrin.

3. Insect repellents:

--Citronella and other “natural” repellents can work but not for very long. Not a good choice to prevent deadly diseases.

--DEET: the most widely used ingredient and still most effective. Use strengths up to about 35%. New controlled-release formulations use lower concentrations of Diet but last longest of all and usually smell better. Diet has been widely used since the 1950’s and has a superb history of safety .

4. Insecticides: Permethrin is a long-duration insecticide that is used on clothing and mosquito nets. It is quite remarkable and is increasingly used because, once clothing is treated, it is odorless and protection lasts from several weeks to several months depending on amount used. It withstands numerous washings and is extremely safe and effective. In most cases you can treat clothing before you leave home.

Remember that preventing bug bites is best done using as many of the above ways together as possible.

A word about sunscreens: In many of the places we need insect repellent we also need sunscreen. It is best to put your sunscreen on first and allow a few minutes for it to bond to the skin. Repellent should then be applied. Controlled-release repellent may be the best choice over sunscreen.

The Healthy Traveler Clinic stocks a variety of excellent insect repellents and permethrin in an array of sizes and forms to suit most travelers. We carry mosquito nets from small head nets to large sizes for king size beds.You can purchase these items and more during your visit with us or from our right now!



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