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How to Prevent Malaria

Updated on July 3, 2017

What Is Malaria?

Malaria is a serious medical condition that is caused by parasites known as plasmodia. These parasites are transmitted to our blood stream through mosquito (female anopheles) bite.

Malaria Can Kill Fast

When an infected mosquito bites you and transmits the parasites, those parasites multiply in your liver before infecting and destroying your red blood cells. Malaria is a major health problem worldwide. It can kill fast.

Malaria Is a Life-Threatening Blood Disease

Chills, tiredness and fever are common symptoms of this life-threatening blood disease. This medical condition can lead to seizures, renal failure, jaundice and even death. More than 200 million people are affected by malaria worldwide every year.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates stated that there were about 214 million cases of malaria in 2015 which led to 438,000 deaths.

— Prof Osaro Erhabor

Female Anopheles Albimanus Mosquito

Female Anopheles albimanus mosquito feeding on blood.
Female Anopheles albimanus mosquito feeding on blood.

Why Is Malaria Dangerous?

Around one million die due to this dreadful medical condition. Around 0.8 percent of people affected by this medical condition succumb to it, even in the developed western world. More than 90 percent of all the malaria cases occur in African continent.

Malaria Is a Public Health Challenge

In fact malaria is the leading cause of death in children less than five years in the African continent. It is a public health challenge in this continent. Worldwide, more than two billion countries are at the risk of getting infected with malaria in more than 100 nations.

Malaria Has Re-Emerged

Major cause of concern is that malaria has re-emerged in places where it was eliminated. This is due to many factors like parasite’s increasing resistance to anti-malaria medicines and insecticides.

Malaria Causing Parasite Plasmodium

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Malaria Prevention Tips

Fortunately malaria is very much preventable. Here are some tips on how to prevent malaria.

Avoid Mosquito Bites

Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to avoid prevent malaria. One bite from a female anopheles mosquito carrying the parasite plasmodium is enough to infect the person with this medical condition.

DEET Is Effective Against Mosquitoes

It is advisable to apply a good insect repellant on your skin. DEET (diethyl toluamide) is very effective against mosquitoes. Adults, children and even pregnant women may use DEET. It is safe.

DEET Has Been Used For Many Decades

DEET has been used more than eight billion times over the last half a century. If you are not comfortable with DEET, you may use other products like Mosiguard, which is made from eucalyptus oil.

Follow Manufacturer's Instructions While Using Mosquito Repellent

While using the mosquito repellant, it is very important to adhere to manufacturer’s recommendations. This is especially true while using it on children. According to experts mosquito repellents containing more than 30 percent DEET is immensely effective against mosquitoes. However, for young children, use a preparation containing less than 24 percent DEET, as it can be absorbed through the skin.

Apply only on exposed skin. Avoid using perfumes and colognes. Use mosquito nets during the night when you are sleeping. It is the safest and most natural way of protecting yourself from mosquito bites.

Apply Sunscreen Before Applying Mosquito Repellent

If you are using sunscreen, apply it before applying the mosquito repellent. Wash off the repellent before going to bed. It is advisable to sleep in rooms that are properly screened with gauze over doors and windows. It is important to inspect for damage to the gauze. Check for unscreened entry points to the room.

Using Insecticides in Areas Where You Will Be Spending Most of Your Time

You may consider using insecticides in areas where you will be spending most of your time during the day. Spray insecticides on indoor walls. It is advisable to avoid camping at locations around stagnant water. That is where mosquitoes breed.

Mosquitoes Breed in Stagnant Water

Use Mosquito Net

While on camping trips, carry insecticide treated mosquito net. Use the same while sleeping. This reduces the risk of mosquito bites very effectively, by about 69 percent.

Buy a Small-Meshed Mosquito Net

It is advisable to buy a mosquito net that is small-meshed. Check for holes in the mosquito net. Tuck the net under the bottom sheet. Ensure that the mosquito net is rolled up during the day. This will ensure that mosquitoes and other equally nasty insects do not enter the net when it is not in use.

Impregnation of the net (with insecticide like permethrin or deltamethrin) lasts around six months. This depends on the frequency of usage of the net. It is advisable to pack the net in a plastic bag when not in use. Do not wash the net in between re-impregnation.

Do Not Give Breeding Space to Mosquitoes

Avoid giving breeding space to mosquitoes. Keep pots and pans empty. Cover vessels that you use to store water. Keep areas around your house clean. If you find any stagnant water, take appropriate steps to close the same.

It is possible to break the life cycle of the mosquitoes by fumigating their breeding places, mainly stagnant water.

Pyrethrum, basil, marigold, citronella, clove, rosemary, horsemint, catnip, ageratum, lavender, vetiver grass, lemon grass and garlic are some plants that are very effective against mosquitoes. Plant them in your garden.

In fact you may prepare your own natural mosquito repellent that is safe to use. It should ideally be a blend of essential oil and carrier oil. That is around five to 10 percent of essential oil and the remaining carrier oil.

It is advisable to use essential oils like citronella oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, cinnamon oil and castor oil. These oils are very effective against mosquitoes. For carrier oil you may use olive oil, vodka, sunflower oil, witch hazel and alcohol.

Be extra careful during the night hours, between dusk and dawn. Female anopheles mosquitoes usually attack at night. Use electric fans when you see mosquitoes flying around you.

Use Clothes Wisely to Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites

It is advisable to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and thick socks while visiting mosquito-infested locations. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark cloths. It is advisable to wear light colored cloths.

Consult your physician and take some anti-malarial medicines before visiting these places. It is indeed a challenge to find the right preventive medicine. Resistance to chloroquine and other malaria medicines is spreading at an alarming rate. Medicines that were effective against malaria five years ago are no more effective.

According to experts, chloroquine resistance is prevalent throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, large parts of the South American continent and the Indian subcontinent. It is always a good idea to check with your doctor. Do not pick up your medicine from a pharmacy without consulting your doctor.

Use Light to Suppress Mosquitoes' Biting

A research study, which was published in the journal Parasites and Vectors, suggests that exposing malaria-spreading mosquitoes to around 10 minutes of light at night may suppress biting and manipulate their flight behaviour.

Critical behaviours exhibited by the Anopheles gambiae mosquito - the major vector for transmission of malaria in Africa - such as feeding, laying eggs and flying, are time-of- day specific, including a greater propensity for nighttime biting.

Insecticide-treated bed nets and walls do help prevent bites and reduce malaria, but mosquitoes are adapting to preventive conditions, leaving people vulnerable in the early evening and early morning hours - when they are not under the nets or in the house.

Anopheline mosquitoes are adapting to current preventive methods by developing resistance to insecticides and by shifting feeding to earlier in the evening or later into the early morning, times of the day when people are not in bed and therefore not protected by a net.

— Giles Duffield, associate professor at the University of Notre Dame in the US

Researchers tested the mosquitoes' preference to bite during their active host-seeking period by separating them into multiple control and test batches.

Control mosquitoes were kept in the dark, while test batches were exposed to a pulse of white light for 10 minutes.

Scientists then tested the propensity of the mosquitoes to bite immediately after the pulse and every two hours throughout the night, holding their arms to a mesh lining that allowed uninfected mosquitoes to feed while remaining contained. Results indicated a significant suppression.

In another experiment, mosquitoes were exposed to light every two hours, and using this multiple exposure approach the team found that biting could be suppressed during a large portion of the 12- hour night.

Most remarkable is the prolonged effect a short light treatment has on their preference to bite, with suppression lasting as long as four hours after the pulse. This may prove to be an effective tool that complements established control methods used to reduce disease transmission.

— Giles Duffield, associate professor at the University of Notre Dame in the US

Pulses of light would probably be more effective than constant exposure as the mosquitoes would be less likely to adapt to light presented in periodic doses, researchers said.

Check the Level of Malaria Risk at the Place Where You are Travelling

If you are traveling to a place, check the level of malaria risk in that place. If you are visiting warm regions like south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, you need to be extra careful. Malaria is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions. Sub-Saharan Africa shoulders 90% of the global malaria burden.

The risk of being bitten by a female anopheles mosquito and the type of malaria transmitted depends very much on the nation you are visiting and the time of your visit.

While traveling to mosquito-infested area, stay in an air conditioned accommodation.

If you are your loveed one is pregnant, it is advisable to avoid traveling to locations that are infested with mosquitoes. According to experts, malaria increases the risk of abortion, premature birth, maternal death and still-birth.

For Latest Information Regarding Regions Affected by Malaria Visit WHO Website

For the most recent information about malaria and regions affected by malaria, you may visit WHO (World Health Organization) website. Spend time on the site and make yourself conversant with this information. You may even contact the CDC toll free number 1-800-232-4636.

A New Weapon to Fight Malaria

Inside a nondescript mesh cage at Jalna in central Maharashtra, trials are underway on many generations of a “friendly” mosquito that few countries are already experimenting with for vector control programmes.

In the cage are Aedes Aegypti vector mosquitoes, responsible for spreading diseases like dengue and chikungunya, but engineered to be self-limiting.

The Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the vector responsible for dengue and chikungunya outbreaks, has survived traditional fumigating. There is no immediate mass-scale programme to control these outbreaks.

“From a public health perspective, this is a crucial area where intervention can be made,” says Shirish Barwale, director of GBIT, one of the Barwale Group companies that include hybrid seed major Mahyco.

Already, Oxitec is partnering with agencies in Brazil, Panama, the US and the Cayman Islands for trials and pilot projects. In India, GBIT expects to approach regulators seeking permissions for the next phase — limited trials in an open field — early next year (2018).

”Phase One of the trials was in the laboratory, and Phase Two, a contained trial in cages, is currently underway. Once the results of this phase are ready, then we expect to go into Phase Three, which would be open field trials,” said Dr Shaibal Dasgupta, GBIT’s lead scientist on the project. “By February or March 2018, we will be more or less ready and will submit results.”

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) director Dr Soumya Swaminathan agrees that there is a need for a “graded response” to trials around GM technology meant for disease control. “We definitely need to look for alternative technologies for the future,” she said.

The “friendly Aedes” has already been trademarked by Oxitec. These are transgenic male mosquitoes with a self-limiting gene inserted through advanced genetics. Banking upon the male’s natural instinct to mate with a wild female, the OX513A strain is inherited by offspring, causing the larvae to die.

Since GBIT brought in over 10,000-12,000 male OX513A mosquitoes from Oxitec in September 2011, several generations have evolved in its Jalna laboratory and cage, with larvae successfully maturing into adults only with doses of tetracycline added into the water where the larvae grow. GBIT scientists say batches of larvae treated with tetracycline survive, mate and produce offspring, some of which are again maintained with a dose of tetracycline.

“What we do is a regular quality check on the effectivity of the gene. We mate the OX513A male mosquito with the local female and check the mortality. That is the test of effectivity of the gene,” says Dr Dasgupta.

GBIT says their quality checks have shown no deviation from the expected performance of the gene in subsequent generations of the mosquito.

At Oxitec, more than 150 generations of the mosquito have been tested by now, only batches getting tetracycline surviving into adulthood. Again, no deviation has been found in gene penetrance.

Asked whether the local agricultural community around the Jalna facility is aware of the active test site, GBIT says they have a detailed engagement plan to set into motion before open trials.

“We would need to involve the local community for the next round of open trials, as and when we get approvals. At present, discussion with the village close to the site is on and is at the initial stages,” said an official of GBIT.

Among the things they expect to tell villagers is that only male mosquitoes are to be released. The male Aedes Aegypti neither bites humans nor spreads disease.

Also, the OX513A gene being self limiting, it does not remain in the environment unless it gets tetracycline. Scientists also say no toxins are introduced in the bio-engineered OX513A mosquitoes, so birds eating these mosquitoes will not be in any danger. Also, as the Aedes Aegypti only mates with its own kind, DNA sequences will not be spread to other organisms.

Malaria Is a Global Crisis

Malaria is a global crisis. Many international agencies, governments, NGOs, community groups, research institutions, foundations and academic institutions are working sincerely to prevent malaria.

Wise saying “Prevention is better than cure” is definitely true when it comes malaria. The above-mentioned tips, if implemented meticulously, will definitely go a long way in protecting you and your loved ones from malaria.

5 Effective Natural Mosquito Repellents

Sl No
Mosquito Repellent
Neem oil
Tea tree oil
Lemon eucalyptus oil

Any death from malaria – a preventable and treatable disease – is simply unacceptable.

— Dr Pedro Alonso

Reductions in Malaria Case Incidence and Deaths (2010-2015)

WHO Region
Mortality Rate Reduction (%)
South-East Asia
Western Pacific
Eastern Mediterranean

Malaria, let me tell you, is completely preventable and treatable.

— Charlie Webster, English television presenter

5 Effective Homeopathic Remedies For Malaria

Sl No
Nux vomica
Natrum muriaticum
Eupatorium perfoliatum

There are several really good medications to prevent malaria if you take them properly.

— Dr. Patricia Walker, president of American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene


  • Malaria is caused by parasites known as plasmodia.
  • Malaria causing parasites carried by female anopheles mosquitoes.
  • Chills, tiredness and fever are common symptoms of malaria.
  • Around 300 million people are affected by malaria worldwide every year.
  • Around one million people die due to malaria every year.
  • More than 90 percent of all the malaria cases occur in African continent.
  • Avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to avoid prevent malaria.
  • DEET (diethyl toluamide) is very effective against mosquitoes.
  • Avoid giving breeding space to mosquitoes.
  • Pyrethrum, basil, marigold, citronella, clove, rosemary, horsemint, catnip, ageratum, lavender, vetiver grass, lemon grass and garlic are some plants that are very effective against mosquitoes.
  • Female anopheles mosquitoes usually attack at night.
  • If you are traveling to a place, check the level of malaria risk in that place.

Test your knowledge about malaria

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I have family members who live in Africa. Because of the family that lives there, I know what is happening in these countries, and it seems so silly to me that diseases like malaria are so prevalent when they are entirely preventable. Yet children are still dying every 35 seconds.

— Katharine McPhee


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