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Travel and Malaria | Everything you need to know about malaria pills

Malaria, most world travelers are directly or indirectly affected by this when traveling. We previously wrote about all vaccinations that you need for a trip around the world, but unfortunately Malaria is not yet part of that. In recent years a lot of research has been done into a vaccine against malaria, but unfortunately no effective vaccine has been found yet. Yet there are various ways and medicines to arm yourself against this nasty disease. In this article you will learn everything about travel and Malaria

Note: We also strongly advise anyone traveling to a country or area where Malaria may occur not to jump to conclusions from this or other articles. Always make an appointment with one of the specialists of the GGD. The information they have is always up-to-date and that is why they can advise you specifically based on the specific travel plans you have.

What is malaria?

Malaria is an infectious disease spread by mosquitoes. During a mosquito bite, the pathogen Plasmodium is transmitted. Once in the human body, the pathogen settles in the liver cells, where it develops and multiplies. After a few days, it re-enters the blood and penetrates the red blood cells. There further development and maturation takes place, whereby the blood cell perishes. This cycle then keeps repeating itself. The breakdown of red blood cells can cause anemia and damage your organs. Infected red blood cells can also clog blood vessels in the brain.

Also read: The world of insects: Know what bit you!

What are the symptoms of malaria?

From a week to a few months after being infected by a mosquito you get a high fever, chills, sweating, headache, muscle aches and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Malaria symptoms resemble the incipient flu, but are more severe. If you have malaria, you are really sick. You can hardly sit and are not able to do anything. If the disease is not treated, you can get the so-called brain malaria and other complications, from which you can die.

When to take malaria pills?

To take or not to take malaria pills? And when? This is probably the question every traveler asks himself during the preparations for his or her trip. It is often a difficult choice because you do not know how great the risks are, it is unhealthy to take malaria pills for a long time and because you are in a malaria area one week and not the next. In addition, the pills are also quite pricey. Before you decide whether or not to take malaria pills, it is good to know everything about them first. Consult the GGD or your GP to be sure of good and reliable advice.

Where is Malaria most common?

The world map below gives a good picture of the most recent malaria areas. Please note that there can be a lot of difference per country: some areas may be malaria free, but that is not visible on the map. If you want to be sure whether you are traveling through a malaria area, consult the GGD. You can also find many detailed maps per country with a few searches on the internet.

Source: www.careplus.eu

Which Malaria Pills Are There?


Malarone is one of the most commonly prescribed antimalarial drugs. You start taking the tablets 24 hours before you arrive in a malaria area and swallow the tablets up to and including 7 days after leaving the malaria area. Malarone cannot be used if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. It is also not suitable for children weighing less than 5 kg. Malarone cannot be used in severe renal failure.

Malarone side effects are generally mild and do not last as long. The most common side effects are abdominal pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cough. Insomnia, vivid dreams and hair loss also occur.


Lariam is a type of malaria pill that is often recommended when Malarone cannot be used or when someone has to take malaria medication for a long time, for example. The drug Lariam only needs to be taken once a week, unlike Malarone, which needs to be taken daily. If you have or have had psychological complaints (eg anxiety, depression) or epilepsy, Lariam is in principle not prescribed. If you are planning to go diving, Lariam is also not recommended. It can be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Lariam can cause side effects. Common side effects with these malaria pills are: dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headache, drowsiness, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, insomnia and strange dreams. Less common side effects: tinnitus, balance disorders, depression, confusion and hallucinations.


Doxycycline is an antibiotic that is sometimes prescribed as a replacement for regular malaria pills. You start the tablets 1 day before you arrive in a malaria area and you use them up to 4 weeks after you have left the malaria area. Doxycycline should not be used during pregnancy and while breast-feeding. Also, doxycycline is not suitable for children under 8 years of age.

Doxycycline can cause side effects. Common side effects of these malaria pills are: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea. Less common side effects: skin reactions after exposure to sunlight and hypersensitivity to sunscreen.

Different tablets and medicines against Malaria
Different tablets and medicines against Malaria

Malaria emergency kit / emergency treatment

There is also one emergency kit/emergency treatment against malaria. This is a 3-day cure that you take with you when you travel to an area with an average risk of malaria. You only use these pills if you get flu-like symptoms/fever while traveling and cannot be with a doctor within 24 hours to have a test for malaria. Or when the doctor abroad has detected malaria in your blood. 

Malarone is the first choice emergency kit / emergency treatment. Below is a summary of how it works.

  • Please three days up one after the other same time, four tablets at the same time.
  • Always take the tablets during or after a meal or with a milk drink (not fat-free!)
  • If you vomit within three hours of taking it, you will need to take four tablets again as they will not have been absorbed into your body.
  • Please note: an adjusted dose is required for children.

Would you like to know more about an emergency kit / emergency treatment against Malaria? Then ask about it during your consultation at the GGD.

How much do malaria pills cost?

The most common malaria pills or tablets (Malarone) cost about 3 euros per person per day. Lariam is slightly more expensive per tablet, but you do not have to take it as often (once a week) and is therefore usually cheaper, about 2 euros per day. Doxycycline is about the same price per day as Malarone, only you have to keep taking Doxycycline for 4 weeks longer, even if you have already left the Malaria area for a long time. For that reason, Doxycycline is often the most expensive.

Malaria pills and alcohol

In principle, there are no restrictions on drinking alcohol when you take malaria pills or tablets. To be completely sure, it is of course always advisable to check with your doctor and to read the package leaflet of your chosen medicine carefully.

Malaria pills and pregnancy

It is strongly not recommended to take Malaria pills during your pregnancy and/or when you are breastfeeding. If you are pregnant or are going on a trip with young children, get information from the GGD or your GP and ask about the options.

Preventing mosquito bites and malaria | 6 tips

1. Fan and Airco

Another thing mosquitoes hate is wind and cold. If you sleep without a mosquito net, it makes a big difference if you turn on the air conditioning or point the fan at you.

2. Go mosquito hunting before bed

Is it suffocating from mosquitoes in your room? Then you can always go on a mosquito hunt the old-fashioned way. That sometimes takes some time, but it is certainly effective!


3. Mosquito Repellent with DEET

There are many different types of mosquito repellent available. One works better than the other, but in general it can be said that anti-mosquito spray with a high DEET content works the best. on bol.com There are different types available for a good price.

4. Shower more often

This is always a good idea in warm, clammy areas such as the tropics, but it is definitely recommended if you have sweated a lot that day. Mosquitoes are attracted to the smell of sweat. The smell of sweet deodorant, perfume and hairspray also attracts mosquitoes. Whenever possible, use deodorant with little to no fragrance. Looking for an odorless deodorant? This product we can recommend.

Shower more often against mosquitoes and malaria
Shower more often against mosquitoes and malaria

5. Sunrise & sunset

Mosquitoes are most active during sunrise and sunset, so these are the times when you need to watch out the most. Are you going somewhere to watch the sunrise or sunset? Lubricate or spray yourself in advance and take some extra with you just to be sure and wear covering clothing to minimize the risk of being stung.

6. Sleep under a mosquito net

Okay, this is of course very logical, but should not be missing from this list of tips. In most tropical places you will have a mosquito net in your room and this is the perfect protection against that annoying buzzing and mosquito bites. Yet there are also plenty of places where you won't find a mosquito net, but would like to use one. Therefore always take your own compact mosquito net with you during your trip. It is also always handy to take a roll of tape with you when you travel so that you can seal any holes in your mosquito net.

A mosquito net - the perfect weapon against mosquitoes and Malaria
A mosquito net – the perfect weapon against mosquitoes and Malaria

What to do if you have Malaria?

See a doctor right away if you think you have malaria. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible. Even if you experience symptoms for a long time after your trip, it is wise to contact your doctor. Are you in a remote area and it takes you more than a day to get to a doctor? Then immediately contact your health insurer or the organization with which you have taken out travel insurance. Malaria can be treated well in most cases if you are caught on time

What are other travelers doing?

Malaria is therefore a serious disease that can have major consequences for your health. On the other hand, the chance that you will contract malaria in Southeast Asia is not very high. It is therefore a difficult choice whether or not you will take malaria pills during your trip through Southeast Asia. Think carefully about the pros and cons and the route you want to take. If you are going to travel around for six months, it may not be so smart to take pills every day for 6 months, but to only do this in the areas where you run the most risk.

Malaria in Southeast Asia
Malaria in Southeast Asia

If you are only going to travel for 3 weeks, it might be smart to just take them if you are in a malaria area a lot. Most of the travelers we have encountered in recent years did not take malaria pills or only in certain areas. If you decide not to swallow them, it is in any case smart to take a box with you. If you have Malaria and cannot immediately see a doctor, you can inhibit the attack with a high dose of malaria pills. It is also advisable to always seek advice from an expert, for example from one of the specialists at Vaccinations Op Reis or the GGD.

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Do you want to know more about world travel? There is much more information on this website, for example on our world travel page. Also, the worldly page a fun and educational place for real world travelers† See you there!

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