Malaria occurs in tropical areas around the world. The disease is caused by a parasite that is spread by mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. The mosquitoes thrive in low-lying, hot and humid areas. They are silent and appear at dusk, so the greatest risk of infection is in the evening and at night.
The greatest risk of malaria is in Africa, but the disease also occurs in Southeast Asia and South and Central America. The prevalence of malaria varies widely in different parts of a country with generally lower risk in cities and at altitudes above 1500-2000 meters above sea level.
The incubation period, the time from infection to disease, can vary from one to four weeks. Sometimes, however, a much longer time, which you should keep in mind if you fall ill in the months after returning home from malaria areas. It is therefore important to seek medical attention quickly in case of unclear fever. Blood tests can then show if you have malaria.
The most severe form of malaria may initially resemble the flu, with sudden fever and chills, muscle and headaches, and nausea. In really severe cases, severe diarrhoea, unconsciousness and shock occur. Symptoms of other forms of malaria are regular short-term fever peaks and heavy sweating followed by fever-free periods. You can feel on the verge of recovery when the fever suddenly strikes again and you get worse. Pregnant women are at risk of suffering more severely from malaria and are therefore advised against traveling to areas with a high malaria risk.
Preventive treatment for malaria
Treatment to prevent malaria is given in tablet form and written on e-prescription after individual assessment. Destinations, length of stay, if you are being treated with blood-thinning drugs, previous periods of depression and other illnesses play a role in the choice of preparation.
It is very important that you take the medicine as prescribed, which often means medication before, during and after a trip to the malaria area.
No malaria treatment provides 100% protection. You still need to be observant of any disease symptoms. Use only malaria tablets that are prescribed in Sweden.
Other important measures to protect against infection;
– Protect yourself from mosquito bites by dressing with long sleeves and long trouser legs, especially in the evening.
– Use mosquito repellent to be applied every 4 to 8 hours depending on the preparation to maintain a good protective effect.
– Use mosquito nets with impregnation. Note that the impregnation has a certain shelf life.
– Air conditioning and mosquito nets covering doors and windows reduces the risk, but do not rule out the risk of infection.
NOTE! Malaria can be spread through blood transfusions. After a stay in the tropics, blood donors must wait 6 months before they can donate blood again. Anyone who has once had malaria cannot become or be a blood donor.