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Malaria illustration

What is malaria?

A deadly disease which can infect travellers through a single mosquito bite. It causes fever, headache, chills, and muscle pain. People travelling to Africa, Asia and South America are at risk.

Malaria illustration

Risk areas for Malaria

Map of risk areas for Malaria
  • Key fact

    More than three billion people – nearly half the world’s population – are at risk of malaria.1

  • How do people get malaria?

    When bitten by infected mosquitoes which carry the malaria parasite.1

  • Which countries are affected by malaria?

    Most countries in Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia (see map).2

  • What are the symptoms of malaria?

    Fever, headache, and chills. Symptoms usually occur between 10 and 15 days after being bitten, therefore you may start to feel ill when you are back home after your trip.1

  • How serious is malaria?

    Prompt treatment means that most people recover completely. But malaria is a severe and potentially fatal disease, so quick diagnosis and treatment are vital. Severe cases can lead to seizures, mental confusion, kidney failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome and coma.3

  • Can I prevent getting malaria?

    You can take the following precautions to help reduce your risk of infection:

    • Visit your nearest convenient pharmacy or specialist travel health clinic for a risk assessment before your trip
    • Use a recommended insect repellent containing either Picaridin, DEET, PMD or OLE, IR3535 or 2-undecanone4
    • Wear appropriate clothing (e.g loose fitting long-sleeved clothes, long trousers, socks and shoes) to minimise exposed skin5
    • Use mosquito nets if you are sleeping or resting in unscreened accommodation or sleeping outdoors during the day or night5

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* This list is not exhaustive and other travel health providers are available.

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  1. World Health Organization. Fact sheets. Malaria. April 2021. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  2. World Health Organization. World Malaria Report 2019. December 2019. Available online (Last accessed May 2021).
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 4 Travel-Related Infectious Diseases. Malaria. June 2017. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yellow Book 2020. Chapter 3 Environmental Hazards & Other Noninfectious Health Risks. Mosquitoes, Ticks, & Other Arthropods. July 2019. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)
  5. Public Health England. Mosquito bite avoidance for travellers. August 2017. Available online: (Last accessed May 2021)

UK-BOTB-2100030 May 2021