The female Anopheles mosquito spreads malaria when it has been infected with the malaria parasite. The best way to protect yourself against malaria on safari is to avoid getting bitten in the first place. As such, the easiest option to protect yourself against malaria is simply to travel to a non-malarial safari destination.
The most popular malaria free safari areas include the Skelton Coast, Etosha Pan in Namibia, the Eastern Cape in South Africa, and high altitude regions of Kenya and Tanzania. Malaria is not an issue in urban areas of South Africa, the provinces around Cape Town, and the Kalahari. There is no need for vaccinations if you travel to one of these destinations.
If you are taking children on safari, it’s especially salient to practice “safe safari”–that is, avoid getting bitten. The CDC recommends that children traveling to a malarial area see a doctor four to six weeks before you travel. Prescription drugs that the CDC has approved for use by children include mefloquine and Malarone. Treat children’s clothes in an insect-repellant soap and dress children in long pants and long-sleeved shirts to protect children from getting bitten.
You should be mindful of mosquito bites between dawn and dusk even if you are taking anti-malarial drugs. Sometimes mosquitos can develop a resistance to these anti-malarial drugs, so it is best to practice safe safari with the following pro tips:
- Prep the clothes you wear with a mosquito-repellant spray or laundry wash. Be particularly cautious in the morning and evening hours by tucking your pants into your socks.
- Since mosquitos are attracted to dark surfaces, it would behoove you to pack only light-colored clothing.
- Any exposed skin should be thoroughly sprayed with a mosquito repellant that contains DEET (unless you’re pregnant or nursing). DEET is not recommended for children.
- Keep the fan turned on in your room while you sleep since mosquitos are unable to fly well in circulating air.
- If you are not in an air-conditioned room or insect-proofed place, try to sleep under mosquito nets without any holes or gaps.
- Treat mosquito nets by washing with permethrin, the active ingredient in mosquito-repellant spray. Permethrin may be sold as Permanone and Duranon.