Malaria is a parasitic infection transmitted by the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. The disease causes fever, chills, headache and muscle aches. If left untreated, malaria can be fatal. The risk of acquiring malaria varies from country to country and even within areas of a country. Factors such as rainfall, the prevalence of mosquitoes, the presence of infection within the mosquitoes, as well as the type of travel you will be doing influences your risk of being infected.
The mosquitoes that carry malaria are dusk-to-dawn feeders, so in addition to taking appropriate malaria medication, follow these precautions:
- Stay in well-screened areas during the feeding times.
- Sleep under mosquito netting or in air-conditioned accommodations.
- If outdoors, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Apply no more than 30% DEET, the active ingredient in commercially available insect repellants to exposed skin.
- For children, 10% DEET is best to avoid side effects.
- To help prevent toxic side effects, use sparingly, wash it off when coming inside and do not apply it to the hands of children.
- Use Permethrin (a non-toxic repellant) for clothing and mosquito netting.