How to Protect Yourself Against Malaria While on Your Gap Year

Malaria prevention is extremely important and it's vital to protect yourself against malaria when travelling to certain parts of the world. Approximately 1,500 travellers return to the UK with malaria every year and many more suffer while on the road. Here's our quick guide to malaria prevention.

Travellers should be aware that the different species of mosquitoes can carry either malaria or West Nile virus, and both predominately bite during the evening and night. A combination of six different methods is recommended to protect from mosquito bites and protect yourself against malaria:

  1. Use of repellents - The Health Protection Agency's Advisory Committee on Malaria Prevention in UK Travellers (ACMP) strongly recommends DEET-based insect repellents as these are the most effective.
  2. Insecticide - These should be used to kill any resting mosquitoes in a room.
  3. Use of nets - If sleeping outdoors or in unscreened accommodation, insecticide-treated mosquito nets should be used. Mosquito bed nets must be free of tears and should be tucked in under the mattress. Those that are impregnated with insecticide can provide extra protection.
  4. Clothing - Where possible, cover up with long-sleeved, loose-fitting clothing, long trousers and socks if outdoors after sunset to minimise accessibility to skin for biting mosquitoes. Cotton clothing can be sprayed with DEET.
  5. Room protection - Air conditioning reduces the likelihood of mosquito bite as a result of substantial reduction in night time temperature. Ceiling fans can also reduce mosquito nuisance. Doors, windows and other possible mosquito entry routes to sleeping accommodation should be screened with fine mesh netting which must be close-fitting and free from tears.
  6. Malaria prophylaxis - See your GP or travel health professional to get a prescription for anti-malaria tablets for full malaria prevention.

An information sheet on insect bite avoidance, updates on other travel health issues, and country specific health advice is available on the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).