Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Malaria is a disease spread by the bite of infected mosquitos.

Malaria is a disease spread by the bite of infected mosquitos.
beginning of content


Malaria is a disease spread by the bite of infected mosquitos. It causes an infection of the red blood cells that can sometimes be fatal if left untreated. Like many diseases, it is better to prevent it, if possible, than treat it.

Malaria symptoms

If you are developing malaria, you usually start to feel unwell 1 to 4 weeks after infection. You might have:

If untreated, malaria can cause anaemia, kidney failure, seizures, coma and even death. Malaria can occur months after infection, and some types can recur years later.

Who is at risk of malaria?

Malaria is common in parts of Asia, Africa, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands and the Middle East. While it is not present in mainland Australia, occasionally the Torres Strait Islands are affected. When travelling to areas affected by malaria, it is important to take precautions to avoid becoming infected.

Malaria can affect anyone, but pregnant women are particularly at risk. Malaria can be severe in pregnant women and can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth. Young children are also at high risk, and can become rapidly ill when infected.

Malaria prevention

If you are travelling to a malaria-infected area, you should take antimalarial medication. Medication must be taken before, during and after travel. Your doctor or travel clinic can tell you if an area you plan to visit is affected, and provide you with a prescription.

Some malaria medications, such as chloroquine, are considered safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Others are not.

To avoid mosquito bites:

  • stay indoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitos are most active
  • stay in a screened or air-conditioned room, or sleep under a mosquito net treated with permethrin
  • wear covered footwear outside and loose, light-coloured clothing that covers your body
  • apply mosquito repellent containing DEET (diethyltoluamide). Use sparingly on children and avoid their hands, eyes and mouth. If you are pregnant, check with your doctor first
  • spray mosquito repellent onto your clothes
  • use pyrethrum insect sprays or vaporising mats inside
  • burn mosquito coils when outdoors.

Unfortunately, these precautions can't guarantee your protection from malaria. Please seek medical help immediately if you develop malaria symptoms.

Last reviewed: August 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 191 results


Malaria is a serious and sometimes life-threatening infection spread through the bite of mosquitoes in many tropical and sub-tropical countries. Malaria can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites and taking certain medications. People planning to visit malaria-affected countries should get advice from their GP or a travel clinic 4-6 weeks before they leave.

Read more on NSW Health website

Malaria | myVMC

Malaria is an infection affecting red blood cells, liver, and potentially brain and kidneys

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Arbovirus and malaria surveillance

Welcome to the Australian Government Arbovirus and Malaria Surveillance Website - an initiative of the National Arbovirus and Malaria Advisory Committee (NAMAC)

Read more on Department of Health website

Malaria overview -

Malaria is a serious mosquito-borne disease that is caused by a parasitic infection of the red blood cells.

Read more on myDr website

Media releases on arbovirus and malaria related matters

This page provides a list of arbovirus and malaria related media releases.

Read more on Department of Health website

Malaria precautions while pregnant or breast feeding -

Malaria infection in pregnant women may be more severe than in non-pregnant women. Find out what precautions need to be taken for travel.

Read more on myDr website

Malaria - Lab Tests Online AU

Site map of article content

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Human surveillance overview

This page contains and overview of arbovirus and malaria surveillance in the human population of Australia.

Read more on Department of Health website

Parasites - NT.GOV.AU

Scabies, strongyloidiasis, naegleria fowleri, malaria, head lice, parasites in the Northern Territory.

Read more on NT Health website

Virus surveillance: National overview

This page contains an overview of arbovirus and malaria surveillance in Australia.

Read more on Department of Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo