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What is Malaria?

Malaria is a serious tropical disease spread by mosquitoes. It can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated quickly.

If you’re travelling to the tropics, make sure you are aware of the symptoms of malaria and seek up-to-date malaria advice before you go. At Fleet Street Travel Clinic, we provide personalised consultations to make your trip as healthy as possible.

Symptoms of Malaria

The most common malaria symptoms are:

  • Fever – 38ºC or over (often intermittent)
  • Aching muscles and joints
  • A headache
  • Chills (sweating and shivering)
  • Abdominal pains and diarrhoea
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin & whites of eyes)

Not all of these symptoms may be present, and symptoms may be delayed (in some cases for up to a year) after your return home – obscuring the link to your travels. Always seek prompt medical advice if you are unwell, and tell carers that you have been abroad and possibly exposed to malaria.

Malaria is easily misdiagnosed as flu, especially at times of year when flu-like symptoms are common. Fever, even weeks after returning from the tropics, should always be treated as an emergency. Call us on 020 7353 5678 and we can advise you.

How can I prevent Malaria?

First of all, find out if you are travelling to a country that has a risk of malaria by visiting our country vaccination guide.

When visiting an area with risk of malaria, anti-malarial medication may be required.  The type of medication given will depend on where you are travelling to and your medical history. We will help you find the anti-malarial medication that suits you.

  • Malarone: the first new drug for preventing malaria in more than a decade. We prescribe it for travellers heading for the world’s worst malaria hotspots. Our experience with Malarone is among the longest in Europe.
  • Doxycycline: an effective alternative to Malarone (minor side-effects include a light-sensitive rash and thrush in a small amount of cases).
  • Lariam (Mefloquine): a highly effective option for many destinations, especially suitable for travellers who have taken it before. Neuropsychiatric side effects are an important concern – Lariam is not suitable for everyone. It is mainly given to people who have taken it previously without experiencing side effects.
  • Chloroquine & proguanil (Paludrine): tablets to be started 1 week prior to travel and continued for four weeks on return. Although the risk of side effects is small, this combination is declining in effectiveness in most parts of the world. In our view, Chloroquine & proguanil are no longer suitable for use anywhere in Africa.
  • Chloroquine alone: 2 tablets per week – this regimen is now only suitable for parts of Central America and seldom used. Tablets must be continued for four weeks after return home.

We always discuss the risks and benefits in detail at your appointment. If you are travelling to high-risk areas with limited access to health care, we can supply stand-by emergency treatment. This is also increasing in popularity among travellers from German-speaking parts of Europe, travelling to areas of low risk for malaria, as an alternative to taking preventive medication.

How to Avoid Being Bitten

Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, so take careful precautions against being bitten in the first place:

  • Cover up with long sleeves, long trousers, and socks – especially at dusk and during the night
  • Wear insect repellent with a minimum of 50% DEET
  • Sleep under a permethrin-impregnated mosquito net, or in a screened and air-conditioned room
  • Use plug-in insect killers, room sprays or mosquito coils in your room at night

For More Advice and To Book An Appointment at Fleet Street Travel Clinic

For further information and a consultation with an experienced member of our travel team, you can book an appointment online here, or call our Central London travel clinic on  020 7353 5678.


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