Prevent Malaria When Traveling In Africa : How to Stay Safe on African Safaris: How to Prevent Malaria When Traveling in Africa? Clients frequently ask us about the risks of contracting malaria while on safari in Africa. We lay out all the information about this potentially fatal disease in this malaria guide. We’ll explain malaria in plain and simple terms, covering everything from transmission to prevention and everything in between.
We don’t want to scare you, but we just want to make sure you understand how serious malaria is and how important it is to protect yourself from it. Learn the truth. This will aid in your readiness and safety while on an African safari.
HOW DO YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MALARIA?
Travelers to African nations are frequently frightened of yellow fever and malaria, two exotic illnesses. And even if you can preventatively immunize yourself against the first one, it seems impossible to avoid coming into contact with the second one. What makes it certain that getting bitten by a local mosquito won’t result in anything more than a brief itch? However, how do the locals endure in such circumstances?
MALARIA: QUICK FACTS
- In areas where malaria is endemic, mosquitoes spread the serious and potentially fatal disease.
- Not all regions in all nations are susceptible to malaria. Season, altitude, and vector control (mosquito elimination programs) are a few of the variables.
- Malaria cannot be transmitted from person to person.
- Prophylaxis (the use of anti-malaria medication) and non-drug interventions (such as avoiding mosquito bites) can significantly lower the risk of contracting malaria.
- An individual’s choice of prophylaxis must be made in consultation with a medical professional, taking into account a variety of factors such as their medical history and other medications.
- Malaria is more likely to affect pregnant women, and both the illness and its treatment may have an impact on the developing child. Pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant are advised to stay away from malaria-infected areas. Consult one of our Tour Consultant for fantastic safari options that stay away from malaria hotspots.
- While P. falciparum, the most prevalent and dangerous form of malaria, typically manifests within 7 to 10 days, other forms, such as P. ovale or P. vivax, may take months or years to appear or may result in relapses.
- Fever and flu-like symptoms are typical malarial symptoms. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any symptoms while visiting a malaria area or afterward.
MALARIA’S LIFE CYCLE: WHAT IS IT?
The Anopheles mosquito, which is female, spreads malaria. When a mosquito bites a person, the malaria parasite is injected into the blood and travels to the liver, where it multiplies and undergoes changes. The red blood cells are then infected by the parasites. At this point, the person will start to exhibit symptoms.
At this stage, a mosquito that bites a person can pick up the parasite. In the stomach of the mosquito, it goes through another lifecycle. The parasite then makes its way to the mosquito’s salivary glands, where the cycle repeats itself.
TRANSMISSION OF MALARIA: HOW DO YOU GET IT?
Malaria is spread through mosquito bites, as stated above in the section on the lifecycle of the disease. Since malaria cannot spread from person to person like a cold, it is not contagious. It cannot be passed sexually either.
The only other (extremely uncommon) methods of transmission are through organ or blood donation, sharing needles with an infected person, or blood transfusion. It may also be transferred from mother to child while the baby is being delivered.
SYMPTOMS OF MALARIA
Malaria symptoms typically include a fever and flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, sweats, chills, headaches, and aching muscles. Also possible are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. According to the strain, symptoms can appear earlier or up to a year after infection, but they typically start 10 days to a month after infection.
If symptoms are not treated, they may quickly lead to mental confusion, seizures, kidney failure, coma, and even death. Consult your doctor right away if you experience any kind of illness while visiting a malaria-endemic region or after leaving the region, and make sure to let them know that you were there.
Only after carefully examining a blood sample under a microscope can malaria be accurately diagnosed, including which strain it is. The test must be carried out right away. However, if you have malaria symptoms and are in a remote area without access to a lab, backup treatment should be started until you can reach the nearest hospital. Do not wait.
TREATMENT FOR MALARIA
Malaria is curable, and prompt treatment is essential. While it is possible (and wise) to carry standby medication like Coartem in your medical kit, this should never be viewed as a substitute for seeking medical attention. Although it is recommended for treating simple cases of malaria, you may still need additional medications, such as quinine, if your condition is severe.
Malaria can be fatal if left untreated or treated incorrectly, and it can become severe very quickly. If you think you might have malaria, get treatment right away.
PREVENTING MALARIA: STAYING SAFE ON AFRICAN SAFARIS
You can take a number of precautions to avoid contracting malaria while on an African safari tour. Even though none of them can completely prevent malaria, using all of them together will greatly lower your risk.
The best way to prevent malaria is to stay away from mosquito bites. When traveling to Africa to spend time outdoors, it may seem impossible to avoid the little critters, but there are many things you can do to avoid them.
- Pack long sleeves and long, preferably light-colored pants.
- Always slumber with mosquito netting.
- Use insect repellents inside and on yourself to prevent bites.
When it comes to anti-malarial medications, there are three main choices. In addition to the non-drug measures mentioned above, prophylaxis should be used. The selection of the appropriate medication must be made on an individual basis in consultation with your doctor.
The selection of medicine will depend on a number of factors. These include underlying medical conditions, concurrent drug use, and prophylactic medication tolerance.
It is even more important to discuss prophylactic options with your doctor or a travel clinic well before your safari if you are traveling with kids, pregnant (or trying to become pregnant), breastfeeding, have any underlying medical conditions, or are taking any medications that could potentially interact with the prophylactics you are taking.
To make sure you can tolerate your malaria prophylaxis, we advise starting it well in advance. If you experience any side effects, speak with your doctor. The three medicines from which to choose are:
- Some tradenames: Efracea, Periostat, Vibramycin-D, Vibrox, Doryx, Oracea, Doxymal.
100 mg daily doses should be taken daily for four weeks after leaving the malaria-risk area, beginning at least 48 hours before traveling there.
The gastrointestinal side effects (nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) are the most frequently reported ones. This is minimized by taking the medication with the largest meal of the day. Doxycycline may also result in oesophagitis (a burning throat), but this side effect can be avoided by taking the medication with a full glass of water and standing up straight afterward.
The effectiveness of an oral contraceptive pill may be compromised by doxycycline. For a few hours, stay away from milk and dairy products, as they may interfere with absorption.
- Some trade names: Lariam, Mefliam.
Weekly (250 mg) doses should be taken beginning at least 10 days before traveling to a malarial region, every week (on the same day of the week), and for four weeks after leaving the region.
People with a history of epilepsy, cardiac issues, or psychiatric issues should not take Mefloquine. In the most severe cases, the medication may result in psychosis, though mild anxiety and nightmares are also possible psychiatric side effects. Inform your doctor of any such side effects, as you may need to switch to a different malaria prophylaxis drug.
- Some trade names: Malarone, Malanil, and Numal.
Taken every day (250 mg/100 mg), starting 48 hours prior to entering the malaria area, every day while there, and every day for a week after leaving the area. The most frequent adverse reactions are nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Again, minimize this by taking the medication with a substantial meal.
WHERE IS MALARIA A RISK? MALARIA BY AREA IN AFRICA
The continent of Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes the warm, humid nations, has the highest malaria transmission rates.
According to the WHO classification see below for a country-by-country breakdown. It is crucial to keep in mind, though, that many nations (particularly South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana) only have malaria in some areas while having no malaria at all in others. Transmission of malaria doesn’t occur in some areas:
- In the cold season
- In extremely dry, desert areas
- At high altitude
- In areas with good mosquito elimination programs
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Travel and Health publication, we have listed the malaria areas by country below. Please be aware that some countries only have malaria in certain areas. Contact our Focus East Africa Tours consultant, and we will be happy to assist you if you are unsure of where your safari goes or if it includes trips to malaria-prone areas.
South Africa: In the low-altitude regions of Mpumalanga Province (including the Kruger National Park), Limpopo Province, and north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal as far south as the Tugela River, there is a year-round risk of malaria primarily caused by P. falciparum. The risk is greatest from October through May combined.
Namibia: From November to June inclusive, there is a risk of malaria, primarily caused by P. falciparum, in the following regions: Ohangwena, Omaheke, Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto, and Otjozondjupa. Along the Kunene River and in the Caprivi and Kavango regions, there is risk all year.
Botswana: From November to May/June, there is a risk of malaria in Botswana, primarily caused by P. falciparum, in the northern regions of the nation, including Bobirwa, Boteti, Chobe, Ngamiland, Okavango, and Tutume districts and sub districts.
Zimbabwe: In areas below 1200 m, there is a risk of malaria from November to June inclusive, and in the Zambezi Valley, there is a risk year-round due to P. falciparum. The risk is minimal in Bulawayo and Harare.
In Mozambique, there is a year-round risk of malaria caused primarily by P. falciparum.
In Malawi, there is a year-round risk of malaria, primarily caused by P. falciparum.
In Zambia, there is a year-round risk of malaria, primarily caused by P. falciparum.
Tanzania has a year-round risk of malaria, primarily caused by P. falciparum, in all areas below 1800 meters.
Kenya is constantly at risk for malaria, which is primarily caused by P. falciparum. The city of Nairobi and the highlands (above 2500 m) of the Central, Eastern, Nyanza, Rift Valley, and Western provinces typically pose little risk.
Uganda: The entire nation is susceptible to malaria, mostly from P. falciparum, throughout the year.
Malaria is a disease that is very treatable and preventable, so you and your family shouldn’t be prevented from taking enjoyable vacations in Africa. Travelers should take extra precautions for these groups in Africa due to red flags and the biggest area of concern: protecting young children, babies, elderly, and pregnant women.
The best defense against mosquito bites is to stay vigilant at dawn and dusk, wear long sleeves, scarves, and pants, apply insect repellent, and sleep under a mosquito net.
The next best defense is to seek medical attention and test for any flu-like symptoms, including fever, by telling your doctor where you’ve been and insisting on a malaria test, even up to a year after leaving a malaria-endemic area.
“Ask one of our knowledgeable and experienced travel enthusiasts for more details on malaria prevention and getting ready for your African safari trip”