Malaria is a serious infectious disease spread by mosquitoes and while you canít catch it in the UK you can be at risk while abroad.

The World Health Organisation estimates that each year 300-500 million cases of malaria occur worldwide and more than two million people die of malaria.

The disease is caused by a parasite called Plasmodium, which is carried by a particular type of mosquito.

When the mosquito bites you, the parasite goes to your liver, and then infects your red blood cells.


The easiest way to prevent the disease is to avoid getting bitten and take anti-malarial drugs when travelling to high risk areas.


Where can I catch Malaria?

In over 100 countries and more than 40% of the people in the world are at risk.

Large areas of Central and South America, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Oceania are considered malaria-risk areas.

Nine in ten of malaria deaths occur in Africa makes it one of the greatest causes of poverty in the world.

What can I do to stop catching Malaria?

Prevention is key and you must first reduce the chance of getting bitten, then reduce the number times you get bitten.

This can include using insect repellents, mosquito nets, covering up at night and steering clear of areas where the mosquitos thrive - like near water.

There are anti malarial drug s which can be taken to fight against the parasite but they must be taken in conjunction with medical advice and according to manufacturers instrauctions.

Your doctor or a health clinic will be able to tell you the most appropriate but some drugs need to be taken for a couple of weeks before travel so it is important to plan.

Some drugs are unsuitable for pregnant women and some can give severe side effects like stomach ulcers.

What are the symptoms of Malaria?

These are many and vary and include fever and flu-like illness, including shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness.

Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea may also occur.


Malaria may cause anaemia and jaundice (yellow colouring of the skin and eyes) because of the loss of red blood cells.

Infection with one type of malaria, P. falciparum, if not promptly treated, may cause kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma, and death.

If you develop a fever - high body temperature, usually accompanied by shivering and headache - at any time while in a country where malaria is present, get urgent medical attention - ideally within 24 hours.

Cheryl Cole lies on couch exhausted struck down with Malaria (Pic: ITV)
Cheryl lies on couch exhausted struck down with Malaria
What is the treatment?

There are a range of drugs which are used to treat malaria by getting rid of the parasite.

They are given intravenously.

How long does it take to get over Malaria?

The time it takes to recover from malaria varies from person to person. However, if you get prompt treatment, youíre likely to start feeling better within a couple of days of starting it.

The time it will take for you to recover will depend the type of parasite you were infected with and whether or not you took antimalarial medicines.

Itís important that you continue to take them after you return from your trip to make sure that you completely get rid of the parasite.

Otherwise, the parasite may remain in your body and cause symptoms weeks or even months later.


Christi Kelly aged 21, from Ilfracombe, Devon, died from Malaria while volunteering in Kenya (Photo: SWNS)
Malaria is likely to be more severe and take longer to recover from in pregnant women, children under the age of five, older people and those with a weakened immune system, such as those who have HIV/AIDS.

There is also a possibility that the parasite that infected you is resistant to the malarial drugs.