Most people who live in areas where malaria is common have developed 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. Most travelers from the U.S. who contract malaria fail to take the right precautions.
The types of anti-malarial medications prescribed will depend on the area you visit. 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 atovaquone-proguanil. Even pregnant women should consider taking preventive medications because the risk to the fetus from the medication is less than the risk of catching this infection.
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
Recommended medications include mefloquine, atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone), and doxycycline.
Prevent mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing over the arms and legs, using mosquito netting while sleeping, and using insect repellent.
For information on malaria and preventive medications, visit the CDC website: www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/index.html.