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Prevention is based on avoiding exposure to mosquitoes and aggressively treating those individuals who are infected. Malaria control programs, such as pesticide use, in many parts of the world are under-funded and ineffective. If an individual is traveling to an area where malaria is common, taking antimalarial drugs exactly as prescribed by a doctor is important. Also, it is recommended by healthcare professionals to prevent mosquito bites by: closing windows at night if possible; sleeping with a mosquito net, preferably one containing an insecticide, with the edges tucked under the mattress; covering up the body as much as possible with clothing; and applying an insect repellent to areas of the body not covered by clothing.
For preventive treatment, individuals generally take the prescribed drug one to two weeks before leaving, throughout the trip, and for four weeks after return. Overdose of antimalarial drugs can be fatal, so following the prescription carefully is important. It is also important not to miss doses.
If the individual is pregnant, avoid traveling to malaria-endemic regions. If this is not possible, a doctor can prescribe an antimalarial drug that is appropriate for each individual, such as chloroquine or mefloquine (during the second or third trimester). Malarone® or doxycycline can harm the fetus.
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Because malaria is developed from the bite of an infected mosquito, malaria can be prevented by using mosquito net treated with insecticides, making sure all windows and doors are covered with screens, and using insecticides on interior walls where malaria is a major problem. If you are traveling in an area where the risk of malaria is high, make sure you wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and other protective clothing to protect yourself from mosquito bites-in particular from dusk until morning. DEET and other insect repellants can also be used to ward off mosquitoes. Preventive medications can also be prescribed as anti-malaria tools. Be sure to check with a doctor about the side effects of any medications being prescribed to you.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.