Malaria

Travel Advisories

For information about Travel Health Advisories   External Link visit Health Canada's website.

What is malaria?

  • Malaria is a disease caused by a microscopic parasite that occurs in more than 100 countries around the world, and is a leading cause of illness and death in developing countries.
  • The malaria parasite is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, which is most active between dusk and dawn, both indoors and outdoors.

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What is the risk of developing malaria?

A traveller’s risk of developing malaria depends upon several factors including:

  • the country in which you are travelling
  • whether or not you are visiting urban or rural areas 
  • the type of accommodations in which you are staying at your destination (for example, if you are staying in simple huts, you are at greater risk than someone who is staying in a hotel)

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When does a person know he/she is infected with malaria?

  • After being bitten by an infected mosquito, it can take from 7 to 21 days to develop the illness. In some cases, however, it can take several months to as long as 6 to 10 months. 

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What are the symptoms of malaria?

  • chills, fever, sweats
  • loss of appetite, nausea
  • muscle and joint pains
  • weakness
  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • headache

If you have recently travelled to a country where malaria is or may be present and you experience some of the symptoms listed above, seek medical attention right away. Persons on anti-malaria medications can still get malaria. Taking medication to avoid getting malaria is not the same as being treated for actual malaria illness. Treatment for malaria must start as soon as possible. Any delay can result in serious illness or even death.

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How is it prevented?

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Protect yourself against mosquitoes

  • Wear light-coloured clothing that is loose-fitting, has a tight weave, and covers your arms and legs.
  • Apply  Insect Repellents containing 20-30% DEET to exposed skin for adults and no greater than 10% for children aged 6 months - 12 years. Note that while 30% DEET can protect for up to 6 hours, 10% DEET only protects for up to 3 hours. DEET should not be applied to infants under six months of age. DEET may also be applied to clothing, but may damage some synthetics such as nylon. Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Reduce outdoor activity in the evenings, at night, and early mornings.
  • Sleep in well-screened lodgings and/or screen your bed with a nylon mosquito net.
  • For added protection, permethrin (an insecticide not for use on skin) can be used to treat bed nets by soaking, or clothing by spraying (let dry 2 - 4 hours before wearing).
  • Take anti-malaria medications as prescribed.  

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  • Malaria External Link
    Public Health Agency of Canada

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