Health and Safety

Malaria

Malaria is caused by a parasite that is transmitted from person to person via the bite of an infected mosquito. Only certain mosquitoes transmit malaria. These mosquitoes are present in almost all countries in the tropics and subtropics, including Ghana. They are active only during the evening and night, from dusk to dawn.

It is very unlikely that you will be infected with malaria during the daylight hours.

The symptoms of malaria include fever, chills, headache, muscle ache, and malaise. Early stages of malaria may resemble the flu.

Symptoms can develop as early as six days after the first exposure to infected mosquitoes or as late as several months after departing a high risk area. While treatment is available for those that become infected,Malaria

it is important to understand the serious health risks associated with this illness. Malaria can often be prevented by regular use of anti-malaria prophylactics and by taking protective measures against mosquitoes.

Anti-malaria prophylactics are, in general, only about 70- 80% effective in preventing malaria. It is important that you take the medication as directed in order to increase effectiveness. Missing a dose or taking your medication late can decrease effectiveness.

Some forms of malaria have shown resistance to the drug chloroquine. The CDC recommends mefloquine to prevent malaria (marketed under the name Larium). Some individuals experience serious side effects to mefloquine, including: vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbance, memory loss, psychological disorientation, and hair loss.

It is very important that you discuss with your primary care physician which prophylactic is right for you. Alternative brands include: Malarone, which is recommended for women, and Doxycycline.

Consider the following protective measures to reduce the chances of contracting malaria:

  • Wear protective clothing (socks, pants, long-sleeved shirts) during the period when mosquitoes tend to bite (dusk to dawn).
  • Frequent screened areas and use netting over your bed if mosquitoes are present in your living area.
  • Use insect repellent with at least 23% DEET.