Is There Malaria In Thailand?

credit: Yay

One of the first questions every aspiring traveler needs to ask is whether there are any potentially dangerous diseases in the country they want to travel to. One of the most abundant parasites on earth is malaria. If they want to travel to Thailand, they need to ask themselves: is there malaria in Thailand?

Yes, there is malaria in Thailand. However, tourists are most likely to encounter malaria-carrying mosquitoes in less populated forested areas near bordering countries like Cambodia, Burma, and Malaysia.

Related: Is There Yellow Fever In Thailand?

Is There Malaria In Thailand?

The (CDC) reports malaria is primarily found in provinces close to, or bordering, Cambodia, Burma, and Malaysia. NHS Scotland has a handy map that regularly updates new information regarding the high-risk areas in Thailand where malaria has been detected.

Provinces bordering Laos, like Ubon Ratchathani and Phitsanulok, are also high-risk areas. Travelers are advised to be extra vigilant when exploring rural forest areas and forest-adjacent areas of the Surat Thani province.

The risk of contracting malaria is very low when traveling to urban areas such as Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, or islands surrounding Phuket, Koh Samui, or Koh Pha Ngan. Travelers planning on visiting these areas should still take precautions but don’t have to overly concern themselves with the risk of being exposed to malaria.

Which Areas Of Thailand Has The Most Cases Of Malaria?

A recent study published by the National Library of Medicine found that 846 cases of malaria were reported between 2008 and 2012, of which 80.5% and 19.5% of cases were reported in the Surin and Buriram provinces.

The most predominant area where malaria cases were reported was on the 3000-kilometer stretch of land close to the Thai-Cambodia border. Notable locations included the Nangrong and Nondaeng districts of the Buriram province, as well as the Sangka and Buached districts of the Surin province.

The study also found that the relationship between malaria deaths and physical environments was linked with urban developments. Forested areas with lower population density and less access to healthcare and malaria prevention medications were at higher risk of malaria-related deaths.

Do I Need To Ingest Malaria Pills Before I Go To Thailand?

All travelers looking to go to Thailand on holiday are advised to take malaria prevention tablets at least four days before departure. The recommendation is to take prevention tablets both during and after your trip to Thailand to ensure that you are sufficiently protected.

Before purchasing any malaria prevention medication, consult your medical practitioner regarding which specific drug is suitable for you and what dosage you will need to take.

Travellers must guarantee that they are fully aware of the drug’s side effects and what they can do to mitigate them. Doctors also advise that they understand the risks involved in taking malaria medication for extended periods, as this might have long-term adverse effects on their health.

Why Is Malaria So Common In Thailand?

Malaria is most common in the rural forested areas of the Taiwanese jungles, especially during the rainy season when the local mosquito population increases. The rainy season typically starts around mid-May and lasts until mid-October.

As noted previously, Thailand’s more prominent, more developed urban centers do not see a significant increase in malaria-carrying mosquitoes during the rainy seasons. They pose a considerably lower risk to tourists visiting Thailand during this time.

People fogging DDT to control Malaria, Encephalitis, Dengue and Zika in a village in Bangkok, Thailand
Yay People fogging DDT to control Malaria, Encephalitis, Dengue and Zika in a village in Bangkok, Thailand

As more areas expand and become more developed and malaria research improves, more people are gaining access to malaria treatment. This increase in medical interventions will continue to reduce malaria’s impact on the local population and reduce the risk to those wanting to travel to Thailand in the future.

How Can I Protect Myself From Mosquitoes While Traveling In Thailand?

Tourists can protect themselves from potential malaria infections while traveling in Thailand by reducing their exposure to mosquito bites. Here are a few easy things you can do to keep those annoying bugs off you.

Reduce The Number Of Mosquitoes

Most travelers might think this is an impossible task. How would they reduce the number of mosquitoes around them? The answer lies in understanding where mosquitoes are most likely found. Mosquitoes enjoy colder, darker areas. They like to lay their eggs in still water.

Tourists are encouraged to examine the area where they will be sleeping and try to empty or drain any still water sources they might come across, such as pots, planters, tubs, and anything else that could hold water. The general rule is if the water smells funny, it’s probably carrying mosquito larvae.

If travelers cannot remove still water sources like ponds and marshes, they are advised to try and relocate to an area further away to avoid being swarmed by hungry mosquitoes.

Create A Barrier

Creating a barrier is the easiest method tourists can use to protect themselves from mosquitoes. Whether this is putting up a mosquito net over their bed, wearing long sleeve clothing and pants over their legs, or putting on mosquito repellant.

Anything they can do to keep mosquitoes off their skin will help reduce their chances of contracting malaria.

Use What Is Available To Them

If travelers find themselves in shorts without a mosquito net, they are advised to find a spot in front of a fan or burn anti-mosquito coils. These tools make it difficult for mosquitoes to approach them, as flying against a strong air current or into an area where coils are burning makes them highly uncomfortable.

What Are The Signs You Have Malaria?

When diagnosing whether a tourist has contracted malaria, medical providers categorize their infection into one of three categories. These categories are asymptomatic malaria, uncomplicated malaria, and severe malaria.

Let’s define each category to help you understand the differences between each category.

Asymptomatic Malaria

Asymptomatic malaria is diagnosed when the tourist has contracted malaria but shows no visible signs of the infection. They don’t feel any different. Tourists who have contracted asymptomatic malaria most often don’t even realize they were infected.

Uncomplicated Malaria

Uncomplicated malaria is diagnosed when symptoms like profuse sweating, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, and fever start showing around seven to ten days after they were first bitten.

These symptoms are usually not life-threatening and, with sufficient treatment, should resolve in a couple of days.

Severe Malaria

Severe malaria is associated with hyperparasitaemia and leads to increased mortality rates. Severe malaria is very serious, and if left untreated, it could lead to organ damage and severe anemia and potentially put patients in a coma.

How Do You Treat Malaria If You Already Have It?

If travelers suspect they have contracted malaria, they are advised to seek a medical practitioner as soon as possible. The doctors will treat them differently based on their symptoms’ severity, age, whether they are pregnant, or which type of malaria parasite they have.

Malaria is a parasite that lives inside the host’s body, and the best way to get rid of malaria is to treat it with prescribed drugs. The most commonly used drug is Chloroquine phosphate. In countries where malaria has developed a resistance to Chloroquine phosphate, medical professionals use Artemisinin-based combination therapies, a combination of prescription drugs that works together to kill malaria.

How Long Does Malaria Stay In Your Body?

According to The Print, malaria can survive inside a host for up to six months without the host showing any symptoms of infection. Due to malaria’s unique genetic makeup, it can lie dormant without triggering a response from the host’s immune system.

Patients treated for malaria often show signs of improvement in as little as nine days. Still, depending on the individual, the parasite could take up to forty days to be eradicated entirely.