Malaria: 5 Myths, Facts, Tips

Malaria is the number one concern of my guests when thinking about a safari to Africa. This is understandable as it’s not a disease that one should take lightly. But it’s also no reason to not visit Africa. I’d like to shed light on some of the common myths and provide some helpful tips how you can minimize the risk of contracting malaria. Equipped with the correct information and the right preparation, there is no reason to be afraid of this disease…

Myth: There is a vaccine for malaria.

Fact: No, there isn’t. Possible vaccines are currently being evaluated in clinical trials but because of the complexity of the parasite, the development of a vaccine that can be commercialized, is a very difficult task.

Tip: There are a variety of anti-malaria-drugs available; speak to your doctor to discuss the best possible option for you.

2011 Amanda Mills Turned on its side, this uncapped amber medication bottle had releasing its contents of an unknown cache of white, oval-shaped tablets. Therapeutic Drug Use - Percent of persons using at least one prescription drug in the past month: 48% (2005-2008)Physician Office Visits - Number of drugs ordered or provided: 2.3 billion - Percent of visits involving drug therapy: 74% - Most frequently prescribed therapeutic classes:   Analgesics   Antihyperlipidemic agents   Antidepressants

Myth: Taking anti-malaria-drugs while traveling, will prevent getting malaria.

Fact: This is not true! There is no complete protection from not contracting the disease. It will reduce your chances of getting it though.

Tip: As some anti-malaria-drugs need some time to become effective, it is important to discuss this with your doctor four to six weeks prior to your travel.

Myth: Insects never bite me, so I will not have any issues.

Fact: Mosquitoes don’t have preferences; everyone is a target when they are hungry!

Tip: They do have a preferred eating time though; which is between dusk and dawn. From late in the afternoon to early morning (5pm to 9am), wear long pants and cover your arms. You should additionally protect any not covered areas with mosquito-repellent.


Myth: If I stay in a clean hotel room with air conditioning, I am protected.

Fact: Mosquitoes don’t care about the cleanliness of your surrounding. They do care about temperature though. Air conditioned rooms might reduce the risk of getting bitten, as it is less likely that mosquitoes getting in the room, but it is not 100%.

Tip: Slip under a mosquito net or spray your room with mosquito-repellent before you go to sleep.

Mosquito net

Myth: If I don’t have chills, I don’t have malaria.

Fact: The symptoms of malaria can vary from being mild like headaches or higher temperature to being more serious such as vomiting or diarrhea.

Tip: As soon as you feel unwell, you should consult a doctor. A blood test confirms the diagnosis but also helps in determining the type of malaria and assessing severity of the infection. Also note that symptoms can develop as quickly as seven days after an infected mosquito bites you but they can also develop a year later.


I‘d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section…