You are currently viewing Malaria in Tanzania – all you need to know!
Our weapons against mosquitoes

Malaria in Tanzania – all you need to know!

On a Tuesday evening in Tanzania, we were not doing so well. Stomach cramps, increased temperature, body aches, and great exhaustion. In Germany, everything would point to a gastrointestinal infection. But we are in Tanzania. What could be wrong with us? Did we catch malaria?

UnboxingTanzania gives you our view of malaria. What options do you have to protect yourself and what do you need to know about malaria? You’ll find out in this article.

We gathered some information so that you can evaluate the risk for yourselves.

  • Introduction
  • What is Malaria?
  • Precautions
  • Vaccination (not yet availible) & Prophylaxis
  • Important Reminders

Obviously, you have to decide for yourselves, how you view the risk of malaria and how you want to deal with it. But we want to calm the panic a bit and give some perspective. There are also different diseases in Tanzania (more information here).

Disclaimer: We are not doctors and this article does not give medical advice.  We only report on our ownexperiences and express a personal opinion.

You could try to find out what’s wrong with you by typing all your symptoms into google. Probably that’s not very reliable. A more serious option is the ADA App. It also gives you different ideas of what you could have. Or maybe you check with your GP?

We learned from our friends it’s a bit different here. In Tanzania, we are always advised to first get a malaria test. Only if you do not have Malaria, other sicknesses are considered. That just shows how very present Malaria is in Tanzania. It is especially present in the minds of the locals.

What is Malaria?

It is a dangerous disease in all tropical regions of the earth. There are four different types of Malaria. In Tanzania, we face variant “Tropica”. Malaria is a Parasite that the Mosquito picked up at one point and then transmits to the next one it bites. The Mosquitoes that can infect you with Malaria are usually not active during the day but during dawn/dusk and night.

If left untreated, it can become chronic. It leads to damage of organs or could even end deadly. That is why we learned a simple rule: If you get a fever – you go, get a Malaria test.

There is no vaccination against Malaria available yet. Still, there are measures of precautions you can take. Still in Germany, we asked our GP about it and that prepared us well. We highly recommend consulting a medical expert when traveling abroad.

Seasons and Location

Most regions in Tanzania are high-risk Malaria areas. But Tanzania is a large country. There are hotspots and areas, where the risk to be infected is very low. To be honest, that is something some doctors abroad seem to forget to mention.

Another factor to consider is the season of the year. In Dar es Salaam we felt that in the months July to September, there were fewer mosquitoes than from December to April. We visited Zanzibar with friends in February. They took their malaria precaution pills every day, but we hardly saw a mosquito on the coast. In the middle of the island, it was a different matter.

In the rain season some areas turn into a mosquito paradise
In the rain season some areas turn into a mosquito paradise

Our experience illustrates how important it is to consider the Destination and the Season of your trip.


We laughed out loud, when our GP said, “The best prevention is not to be bitten by mosquitoes”. When you think of it –it really makes sense. You call that exposition prophylaxis. It is about protecting your skin directly and indirectly.

The skin that is exposed to mosquitoes has to be sprayed or creamed with it. We like to buy local products because we find them to work as effectively as our European stuff. But still! Bring some from home, just to be sure. That is especially true when you have sensitive skin. You don’t want to ruin your holiday with unnecessary rashes. You can also protect yourselves by wearing long clothes during dawn.

Another way of prevention is to note the room you stay in. You should really sleep under a mosquito net. (You could buy a net locally but sometimes they van be hard to find – why not take one along). This is what we do. It is important to stick it under the mattress all around, so there is no opening inviting the little beasts.

Our bed, and of course we sleep under a mosquito net - one way we protect us against malaria
We sleep under a mosquito net – one way we protect ourselves against malaria

Additionally, if you are afraid of the beasts robbing your precious sleep, you could buy insect sprays for the room. There will be local products that work very effectively – just ask your host which one they use.

Vaccination (not yet available) & Prophylaxis

There is no vaccination against Malaria yet. There is, however, a precaution you can take. That means – for Malaria –  you take the medication that is also the treatment of Malaria, just a much milder dose. Depending on the actual product you start to take it before your holiday, during your stay, and till after you return home.

All medications have side effects. When traveling also prepare your travel first-aid-kid accordingly. Let’s face it – you will want to be prepared for side effects like diarrhea and not start to look for solutions when you are here in Tanzania. Just in case.

We heard from our friends that it does help the tummy to take chemoprophylaxis with some fatty /oily food – maybe some yummy avocado. Maybe that helps you as well.

We found that taking chemoprophylaxis has another risk – a more psychological one. Actually, chemoprophylaxis will not prevent you from catching Malaria. It’s true the medication will help you not get sick – especially during your well-deserved vacations.

Prophylaxis has a “BUT” that doctors sometimes forget

You might or might not be infected with Malaria during your stay but you don’t know. Malaria damages the organs. Hence, it is crucial that you are treated early. Prophylaxis just suppresses the symptoms. However, once you are back home, Malaria could revive in your system. If you or your GP do not draw the connection to your stay in Tanzania, you might lose valuable time to get the proper treatment.

Therefore, when you get a fever in Tanzania be sure to get a Malaria test. When you are back home and your temperature rises– tell your GP that you have been in Tanzania. He can make sure you’ll be tested and well.

Bottom Line

When prepared well, there are fewer worries. See you in Tanzania.

This Post Has One Comment

Comments are closed.