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Children and Malaria

My wife and I would like to plan a trip to the Kruger National Park with our small children. At what age can you start giving malaria preventative medication to children?

  • Technically, as soon as they weigh over 5kg. However, I wouldn’t advise children under five years to visit a malaria area.
  • The biggest problem with babies/toddlers is that they can’t say their ill and with malaria you can’t wait three days to diagnose. Any illness with flulike symptoms: Fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, even diarrhea should be suspected as malaria until proven otherwise. Doctors may diagnose flu instead of testing for malaria – parents must insist on an urgent malaria screen and get the laboratory results within four hours.

Children and Malaria: Prophylaxis Options:

  • Mefloquine can be given from 5kg
  • Malanil can be given from 11kg
  • Doxycycline should preferably only be given from 8 years

When considering malaria risk, travellers should bear in mind that NO Anti-malarial provides 100% protection against the disease. Thus avoiding mosquito bites remains the cornerstone of protection against malaria. DO NOT GET BITTEN! Although no Malaria Prophylaxis provides 100% cover, one should consider that 90% protection is better than no protection at all. Therefore the use of Malaria Prophylaxis is highly recommended as a second line of defense against malaria.

Did you know?

You can also get malaria if you haven’t travelled to a malaria area. It’s called “taxi-malaria”, because an infected mosquito can travel in a taxi/car to a different area.

Health Expert | Beware the Bite | Dr Albie de Frey, Travel Doctor, Johannesburg

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