One of the unfortunate facts of life on a trip to Africa is the mosquito. Annoying and the cause of great itchy lumps on any bit of skin that’s left exposed after nightfall, they also bear one of the greatest banes of African life – malaria.

While bug bites go down with time, malaria is an altogether trickier customer. It’s difficult to treat, can lead to some unpleasant symptoms such as headache and high fever and in extreme cases can even put the unfortunate recipient of the infected bite in a coma. The worst case scenario is death from complications of the malarial infection.

On your next trip to Africa (, it’s important to make sure that you protect yourself against malaria. Take some of our tips and keep yourself safe from the pesky mosquito and its infectious bite.

Malaria in africa

Anti-malarial drugs

When you’re preparing for your trip to Africa, make sure you book an appointment at the travel health clinic in your GP surgery. In addition to the necessary vaccines you need to get into the country, they can also provide you with the most up to date advice on the type of anti-malarial drugs you need to take with you to protect you against infection.

There are different types of drugs that are most effective in different regions of Africa and your GP or practice nurse in the surgery will be able to advise you on the most appropriate one for the specific area to which you are travelling. Some of these drugs will be more expensive than others, but make sure that you take the advice of your doctor or travel health nurse and don’t just choose the cheaper tablets. Different medications are more effective on different strains of the malaria infection and if you’re taking the wrong type of tablets, you won’t be protected.

Some of the anti-malaria tablets have side-effects, but it’s important to keep taking them. When you speak to your doctor or travel health nurse, take their advice on the best time of day to take the tablets and anything you can do to reduce the expected side-effects.

Preventing the bite

Camping out on your safari tour puts you at particular risk of malarial infection. The closer you are to standing water such as lakes or swamps, the more mosquitos there are likely to be around.

Camping close to water makes you particularly vulnerable to mosquito bites.

The time the mosquitos tend to be most active is at dusk. At this time, it’s advisable to cover as much skin as possible to protect you against bites. Long trousers and long sleeves while you’re on tour will protect you from most bites you’re likely to pick up. Any exposed bits of skin should be covered with DEET insect repellent. A high concentration of DEET is more likely to keep the mosquitos away, keeping you comfortably free of itchy bites as well as protecting you against malaria.

Malaria prevention

Cover up when the sun sets

In your accommodation, be sure to make use of the mosquito netting provided. Most tents have this built in, so when you’re not in your tent keep the door zipped shut to keep the bugs out and once you’re inside, zip up again to make sure that you’re not giving them the chance to get in. If you’re still travelling at dusk, you still need to make sure you’re covered. Use your insect repellent and make sure you’re wearing long trousers and long sleeves.

Make sure you follow these hints and you should be safe from malaria. You should also protect yourself from the mosquito’s itchy, irritating bite too.