Do I need malaria tablets to live in Nigeria? I was born and bred in the UK and want to go back to live in Nigeria for about 2 years, do I need malaria tablets?
It is not usually recommended to take malaria tablets for long periods of time (i.e. more than a few months). People living for extended periods in areas with malaria should focus on other methods of prevention, such as sleeping under a long-lasting insecticide-treated bednet.
The mosquitoes that carry malaria, Anopheles, feed mostly in the evenings and at night, so it is particularly important to protect yourself during these times. Screening windows and doors tightly can help prevent mosquitoes form entering, as can air conditioning inside the house (it makes the climate less suitable for the mosquitoes).
In many parts of Africa, insecticide is sometimes sprayed indoors, again to prevent mosquitoes from being inside the house. Personal protection is also important; wearing long-sleeved clothing, particularly at dawn, dusk and at night, can prevent mosquitoes from biting you, as can wearing mosquito repellent, particularly kinds containing the chemical DEET.
Regarding tablets to prevent malaria, if you really want to pursue this option, the only medication which is recommended for long-term use is doxycycline, but you should consult with your doctor about its suitability for periods of longer than 6 months, and they should also explain to you the possible side effects associated with taking it.
While the above mentioned forms of prevention should be the mainstay of your efforts to avoid malaria, it is also important to know what the symptoms are and what to do if you suspect you might be infected.
Malaria is characterized by high fever, chills, aches and nausea most commonly, and if you think you may be infected, you should immediately go to a doctor or a clinic for diagnosis. The doctor/clinician should take a blood sample and either look at it under a microscope to look for malaria parasites or they will use a drop of blood in a rapid diagnostic test. In both cases, you should only take medication to treat malaria if you are positively diagnosed.