The ABCD of Malaria Prevention

Learn the Malaria Alphabet. The ABCD approach could save your life!

Mosquitos are so much more than just irritating insects which feed on human blood- they can also carry and transmit parasites which cause Malaria.

Malaria has the potential to be fatal. Symptoms include fever, shivering, vomiting and flu-like symptoms. Over half of the world’s population are at risk of Malaria and there are around 207 million illnesses each year.

The good news is that Malaria is often preventable and treatable.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has developed a simple 4 letter tool to help travellers safely prepare for ventures in any corner of the world.

  • Awareness of risk
  • Bite prevention
  • Chemoprophylaxis
  • Diagnosis

You can protect yourself against malaria and must do each time you visit a country that is at risk. No one has full immunity, therefore you should still protect yourself if you grew up or lived in an area that is at risk of malaria. Use the ABCD approach for protection:


Before you travel, you need to think about whether where you are headed has a risk of Malaria. Sub-Saharan Africa, some areas of South East Asia and South America carry a particularly high risk of malaria transmission. It is important that you are clued up on the risk in the area you are travelling.

Seasonal rainfall can increase mosquito breeding and as a result, in some areas, the risk of Malaria can be highly seasonal. So make sure you think about the time of year you are travelling too.

For a full breakdown of what injections or medication you will need to check out our handy Malaria Risk Map.

Alternatively, you can talk to your Pharmacist, GP or any other trained health professional.


Whether you are headed to a high or low-risk area, it is important that you try to avoid being bitten by mosquitos. In short, the fewer bites you get, the safer you are.

There are many repellents on the market but the UK Government Guidelines for Malaria Prevention recommends the use of repellents containing DEET at a concentration of 20% or over for maximum protection. The higher the strength of DEET the less frequently you will need to apply the repellent. DEET up to a concentration of 50% is considered suitable for infants over 2 months, breastfeeding mothers and pregnant ladies although the product packaging may differ.

Mosquitos which transmit malaria typically bite between dusk and dawn so ensuring you apply repellent to any exposed areas of skin in the evenings is crucial. You should also ensure you sleep with a mosquito net particularly if you are staying in budget hostels without air conditioning. It is also worthwhile to ensure you have some form of spray repellent that can be applied such as the Lifesystems Expedition Plus Spray or Jungle Formula Maximum Strength Body Spray.


In some areas where there is a risk of Malaria, it is advised that you use antimalarial medication to reduce your risk of contracting malaria should you get bitten.

The medication you need will vary dependent upon:

  • Where you are travelling
  • Your medical status
  • Personal preference

Not all antimalarials are suitable for all areas. This is because the malaria parasite has developed resistance to some of the drugs used in some areas of the world. Be sure you obtain the right medication for the area you are travelling.

Some antimalarials will require a prescription from your doctor or another suitably qualified person such as an Independent Prescriber which can be completed online, so make sure you leave plenty of time to get it sorted out.

Remember, it is important you take the tablets exactly as prescribed and finish the course to ensure you are properly protected.


Nothing is absolute. Even if you follow all these measures there is still a small chance of you contracting malaria.

After you return from your trip, it is essential that you report any fever, diarrhoea, vomiting or shivering occurring within a year of your return.

Prompt diagnosis of malaria ensures you get the right treatment when you need it and ultimately, improves your chances.

Follow this simple ABCD to get clued and stay protected on your travels.

To get your antimalarial tablets before you travel you can use our online consultation service, this means you won’t have to book an appointment with your doctor!

Bon Voyage!


  • John dick

    Safe b

  • Becky

    Great presentation of facts about malaria. I like the ABCD summary