PreventionBy Mayo Clinic staff
If you're going to be traveling to a location where malaria is common, talk to your doctor a few months ahead of time about drugs you can take — before, during and after your trip — that can help protect you from malaria parasites.
In general, the drugs taken to prevent malaria are the same drugs used to treat the disease. Your doctor needs to know where you'll be traveling so that he or she can prescribe the drug that will work best on the type of malaria parasite most commonly found in that region.
No vaccine yet
Scientists around the world are trying to develop a safe and effective vaccine for malaria. As of yet, however, there is still no malaria vaccine approved for human use.
Reducing exposure to mosquitoes
In countries where malaria is common, prevention also involves keeping mosquitoes away from humans. Strategies include:
- Spraying your home. Treating your home's walls with insecticide can help kill adult mosquitoes that come inside.
- Sleeping under a net. Bed nets, particularly those treated with insecticide, are especially recommended for pregnant women and young children.
- Covering your skin. During active mosquito times, usually from dusk to dawn, wear pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Spraying clothing and skin. Sprays containing permethrin are safe to use on clothing, while sprays containing DEET can be used on skin.
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- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Oct. 16, 2012.
- Malaria: Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/about/faqs.html. Accessed Oct. 16, 2012.
- Laishram DD, et al. The complexities of malaria disease manifestations with a focus on asymptomatic malaria. Malaria Journal. 2012;11:1.