Quartan malaria; Falciparum malaria; Biduoterian fever; Blackwater fever; Tertian malaria; Plasmodium
Most people who live in areas where malaria is common have gotten some immunity to the disease. Visitors will not have immunity, and should take preventive medications.
It is important to see your health care provider well before your trip, because treatment may need to begin as long as 2 weeks before travel to the area, and continue for a month after you leave the area. In 2006, the CDC reported that most travelers from the U.S. who contracted malaria failed to take the right precautions.
The types of anti-malarial medications prescribed will depend on the area you visit. According to the CDC, travelers to South America, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Asia, and the South Pacific should take one of the following drugs: mefloquine, doxycycline, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, or Malarone. Even pregnant women should take preventive medications because the risk to the fetus from the medication is less than the risk of catching this infection.
People who are taking anti-malarial medications may still become infected. Avoid mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing over the arms and legs, using screens on windows, and using insect repellent.
Chloroquine has been the drug of choice for protecting against malaria. But because of resistance, it is now only suggested for use in areas where Plasmodium vivax, P. oval, and P. malariae are present. Falciparum malaria is becoming increasingly resistant to anti-malarial medications.
For travelers going to areas where Falciparum malaria is known to occur, there are several options for malaria prevention, including mefloquine, atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone), and doxycycline.
Travelers can call the CDC for information on types of malaria in a certain area, preventive drugs, and times of the year to avoid travel. See:
Fairhurst RM, Wellems TE. Plasmodium species (Malaria). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2009:chap 275.
Krogstad DJ. Malaria. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier. 2007:chap 366.
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