Health conditions


Malaria is an infection caused by a parasite, which is passed on through the bite of an infected mosquito.

What are the symptoms of malaria?

  • a slow rising fever that escalates to a rapid temperature rise and fall
  • headache
  • nausea
  • chills
  • shivering
  • excessive sweating
  • diarrhoea
  • generally feeling unwell
  • anaemia and associated symptoms.

How is malaria diagnosed?

A clinical diagnosis is made based firstly on the patient's symptoms.

However, the first symptoms of malaria (most often fever, chills, sweats, headaches, muscle pains, nausea and vomiting) are often not particularly specific and are also found in other diseases.

In severe malaria, the symptoms (confusion, coma, neurologic focal signs, severe anaemia, respiratory difficulties) are more striking and may lead to a quicker diagnosis.

A diagnosis based on physical symptoms should always, if possible, be confirmed by a laboratory test for malaria.

How to avoid catching malaria

Infected mosquitoes are only present in certain parts of the world. Therefore travellers to tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Central or South America can be at risk.

When in these malarial areas you can lessen the risk of being infected.


  • avoid outdoor activity around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active
  • wear loose, long, light-coloured clothing
  • use mosquito repellents
  • do not wear perfumes, colognes or aftershave
  • use anti-mosquito devices indoors
  • use mosquito nets which have been treated with repellents or insecticides (especially if windows don't have flyscreens).

How is malaria treated?

Treatment consists of anti-malarial medications. The particular medication administered will depend on the species of parasite and any associated medication resistance.

In most cases, urgent hospital assessment and management is needed. 

Where to get help

  • See your doctor.
  • Visit a GP after hours.
  • Ring healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.


  • Malaria is an infection caused a parasite which is passed on through the bite of an infected mosquito.
  • People can catch malaria when travelling to tropical regions in Asia, Africa, and Central or South America.
  • Malaria can be life threatening – early treatment is very important.

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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