The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Malaria in Burundi

Watch – Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Key points

  • There is a malaria epidemic in Burundi, a country in central Africa.
  • To prevent malaria infection, travelers should take prescription medicine and take steps to prevent mosquito bites, particularly at night.

What is malaria?

Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that spreads to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Early symptoms of malaria resemble those of the flu, including fever, chills, sweats, headache, vomiting, and body aches. Without prompt diagnosis and treatment, malaria can rapidly progress to severe illness and death.

What is the current situation?

A malaria epidemic is ongoing in Burundi. Since January 1, 2019, the Ministry of Health has reported nearly 6 million cases (out of a total population of approximately 12 million), with more than 1,800 deaths.

What can travelers do to prevent malaria?

Take prescription medicine to prevent malaria. Resistance to chloroquine (one of the drugs used to prevent malaria) is high in Burundi, so travelers should use daily atovaquone-proguanil, daily doxycycline, or weekly mefloquine to prevent malaria.

Because the drugs used to prevent malaria are not 100% effective, travelers should also take steps to prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing when outdoors. Because the mosquitoes that spread malaria most often bite at night, travelers should sleep in an air-conditioned or well-screened room or under an insecticide-treated bed net every night.

Travelers who develop a fever while in Burundi or after traveling to Burundi should seek medical care immediately. Malaria is a medical emergency, and appropriate treatment cannot be delayed.

Learn more about malaria, how to prevent it, and what to do if you think you are infected at CDC’s malaria page for travelers.

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