Where Can You Get Malaria?
Malaria is an infectious disease common to tropical and subtropical countries. It poses a major health risk to travellers. Although residents of malarial areas have some immunity to the disease, visitors to countries with malaria have no immunity to the malaria parasite and are often advised to take anti-malaria medication.
Over-the counter anti malaria medication containing the active ingredients chloroquine and proguanil. Check to make sure these tablets are suitable for your country of travel.
If you are planning a tropical holiday in the sun, visiting family abroad or taking a business trip to an unfamiliar country, check to see if you need to take precautions against malaria and other infections.
Countries Where You Can Get Malaria
Malaria is found in over 100 countries, placing about half the world’s population (3.3 billion people) at risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Middle East and Oceania are notably affected by malaria. Travellers to sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Oceania, where the rate of malaria transmission is high, have the greatest risk of getting malaria.
In some countries, malaria is widespread. Other countries only have isolated 'pockets' of malaria. Before travelling to a warm climate, check if malaria is present in the country or part of the country you are visiting. Malaria is known to occur in parts of or all of the following countries:
|Africa||Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mayotte, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe|
|Caribbean||Dominican Republic, Haiti|
|Central America||Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama|
|Central Asia||Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan|
|East Asia||Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Republic of Korea (South Korea), Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, East Timor, Vietnam|
|Europe||Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Greece, Turkey|
|Middle East||Iran, Iraq, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Yemen|
|Oceania||Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu|
|South America||Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela|
The Risk of Malaria
Along with air temperature, your risk of getting malaria is influenced by humidity, rainfall, altitude, population size, local malaria control efforts and seasonal variations (if it is cold or dry the risk may decrease). There may be certain times during the year when travel to certain areas is not advised.
Your risk of malaria infection also depends on whether you are visiting a rural or urban area (the risk of malaria can be higher in rural areas), and whether your accommodation is in the open air or well screened with air conditioning. A long stay that includes backpacking through the jungle may pose a greater risk of malaria infection than a short stay in an air-conditioned hotel in the same country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1,500 cases of malaria arise annually in the United States. These mostly involve travellers and immigrants returning from countries where malaria occurs. Around 1,500 UK travellers return home with malaria each year, reports NHS Choices.
Malaria is a serious yet preventable disease. Seek advice from a doctor or travel clinic several weeks before travelling to an area where malaria occurs. You may need to begin a course of anti malaria tablets days or weeks in advance and continue to take them after you return home.
Anti-malaria tablets are not 100 percent effective against malaria and are not always necessary in low risk malaria areas. However, you must always take precautions against malaria and mosquito bites, such as sleeping under an insecticide treated mosquito net, staying in screened accommodation, covering your skin with clothing and using insect repellent on exposed skin.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Malaria
- Fit For Travel: Destinations
- NHS Choices: Malaria
- PubmedHealth: Malaria