National Services Scotland logo

fitfortravel

Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Standby Emergency Treatment for Malaria

The disease

  • Malaria is a disease which can be fatal within a few days. Since it is spread by infected mosquito bites you should cover up with suitable clothing, use insect repellents and a mosquito net when necessary.
  • Preventive antimalarial tablets are important when you are at high risk but they are never 100% effective so always seek prompt medical attention if you get a fever. Malaria almost always starts with fever.
  • The illness usually begins with marked shivering, fever and sweating. Muscle pains, headache and vomiting are common. A few days later, jaundice (a yellow colour first seen in the white of your eyes), dark urine, diarrhoea and confusion can develop. The most serious form of malaria can cause illness a few days following the infected mosquito bite, usually after 10 days to 3 weeks and occasionally longer.
  • The illness can start while you are taking preventive tablets if they are not fully effective and also after you have finished taking your tablets.

Standby Emergency Treatment

  • You may be advised to carry with you a course of standby emergency treatment for malaria if travelling to areas remote from medical attention or for areas where medical facilities are poor.
  • If so your doctor will explain what is the most suitable standby emergency treatment for you.
  • Make certain that you fully understand the correct dosages, possible side effects, storage of tablets and when you should use it.
  • There are various possible standby emergency treatment including atovaquone/proguanil (Malarone®) or Riamet® on their own OR quinine together with doxycycline

Side-effects can occur

  • Quinine can cause nausea and sickness and also tinnitus (a buzzing in the ears).
  • Doxycycline can sometimes cause rashes.
  • Always discuss these possibilities with your doctor before you leave.

Be prepared

  • Always make sure you are clear about how to use your standby emergency treatment before you leave and check any instructions given on the bottle or packet.
  • It is usually safer to take standby emergency treatment unnecessarily than to risk becoming seriously ill when no medical facilities are available.
  • If you have taken standby emergency treatment you must still seek medical advice as soon as possible. This is to ensure your treatment has been adequate and that no other illness is involved.
  • The doctor will also check that no complications have occurred and you may need to discuss whether to change or start taking preventive antimalarial tablets.

back to top