Risk to get malaria in Thailand

Risk for individual travelers to get malaria in Thailand is not the same. Some individual may carry higher risk than the others. Risk to get malaria depends on many factors such as

1. Destination. You have NO risk if you travel only in Bangkok, Pattaya, Samui island, Phuket and the urban area. You may have some risk if you travel in the forested area or in the border area. Please see malaria map in Thailand below;

2. Duration of stay. This factor is straight-forward. The more you stay in the jungle area, the higher risk you carry.

3. Activity during travel. Mosquito that bring malaria usually active in the night time especially in dusk and dawn. Any travelers who have activity during that time carry higher risk than travelers who do not have the outdoor activity at night.

4. Seasonality. There is a seasonal variation of malaria risk in Thailand. The highest risk is in the rainy season.

5. The use of protective clothing, bed net and insect repellents. 

6. Others

So according to the above factors, please keep in mind that risk for any travelers are not universally equal. But why could we say that the risk for someone to get malaria in Thailand is very, very low. And how low is the risk? Here are some information;

1. According to the study in United Kingdom reported in 1996. The risk for UK travelers to get malaria in Thailand was 1:12,254.

2. One study in 2005 published in the Emerging Infectious Diseases estimated the risk for travelers to get malaria in Thailand equal to 1:50,000.

3. Our hospital (Hospital for Tropical Diseases) is the main referral hospital in Thailand that take care many malaria cases per year. We found that in the 6 years period (2000-2005), there were only 21 travelers’ malaria in our hospital. Moreover, only 3/21 cases really acquired malaria in Thailand. So it is rare to find a case of traveler that really get malaria in Thailand.

So we might say that the risk for general travelers to get malaria in Thailand is very low. So this is why we do not recommend the use of antimalarial medication in Thailand.

However if you would like to travel outside Thailand, such as Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia. The risk may be higher in Thailand, you should consult with qualified medical staffs in this issue.

 

References:

1.  Hill DR, et al. The Risk of malaria in travellers to Thailand. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 1996; 90:680-1.

2. Asking HH, et al. Malaria risk in travelers. Emerg Infect Dis 2005; 11:436-441.

3. Piyaphanee W, et al. Travelers’ malaria at the hospital for tropical diseases, Bangkok, Thailand. A 6 Year review (2000-2005). KJP 2006; 44(3): 229-232.

44 comments to Risk to get malaria in Thailand

  • André

    Dear Thai Travel clinic,

    we are a family of 5 (2 adults and children of 2, 7 and 10 years) going to Thailand in December 2017 to Bangkok, Hua Hin and Koh Samui. According to the above, I am concluding that we should not take malaria pills. Is that correctly understood?

    Thanks for your service!

  • Mikaila

    Hi

    I am going to thailand in two weeks
    I am going to Bangkok, overnight train to Khao Sak staying in khao sak in raft houses on lake and jungle resort, then Koh Phi Ph, then Koh Phangan, then Koh Samui

    I was prescribed Lariam but after reading the side effects of anxiety depression etc (I already have anxiety) I decided I don’t want to run the risk of my anxiety getting worse. Wondering if I should go back and get another script for a different type of anti malarial? Is my itinerary high risk?

    Thanks
    looking forward to a response

  • NamTim

    Hello, right now I am in Thailand since one month. I’ve been travelling in the provinces Chumphon, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Kanchanaburi. During that time I also went to national parks like the Sam Roi Yod National Park. Since 3 days I have a unregular fever and feel dizzy especially when standing. I don’t have any chills, headache and no muscle pain. Yesterday I went to hospital and was tested negatively on Dengue Fever. Do you think with these symptoms it is possible that I have Malaria? What should be the next step?

    • TravM Dr

      Malaria should be in the possible list of all fever developed after or during visiting risk area. Anyway, we cannot give specific medical advice in this blog including your case. By the way, if you have fever, or not getting better or have any concern; it is recommend to see a doctor again.

  • Daniel Heiss

    Hello, I am travelling in Thailand since 6th of April mostly in touristic area (Hua Hin, Jomtien, Koh Samet, Koh Chang, BKK) but since yesterday I am in Isaan (Nong Kung Si, Sahatsakhan, Kalasin area) until 30th of April. Yesterday night in our resort I got biten by mosquito altough I am using mosquito repellent. Now I fear of Malaria. I have a anti malaria tablet with me which my Austrian doctor gave me for my trip. STADA 250mg Atovaquon/100mg Proguanilhydrochlorid. Should I take them for safety reasons as prophylaxis or not? Many thanks for your answer and best regards.

  • Arnaud&Amp RINGENBACH

    hello! i m going in my wife ‘s village near sisaket in issan with my son,in beginning of may is there a risk to get malaria in this area? thank you for your answer

    • TravM Dr

      There are some risk of malaria in the rural area of Srisaket especially near Thai-Cambodian border. Anyway, the risk is not that high. We do not recommend to use antimalarial medication to prevent malaria in Thailand. Just prevent yourself from mosquito bite and aware sign/symptoms of malaria.

  • Mikkel

    Hello.

    I´m an expat living in Bangkok – But going to Koh Chang (First time), for a few days from 1st may – 5th May (4 nights). and then back to Bangkok.

    Should I be concern about any risk of engaging malaria during my stay at Koh Chang, as far as I can read, the risk is almost 0 at Koh Chang even though closed to Cambodian border.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Teresa

    Hello, I’m writing a comment again as the previous one seems to have disappared. So, me and my husband are travelling from bangkok to chiang mai, staying there 6 days, maybe having a trip around, up to Pai and also visit some park if possible. Then, off to Cambodia, and then back in Thailand to Koh Lanta and Koh lipe. Would you think, at least regarding for Thailand, these areas are highly at risk right now?
    Thanks again,

  • Nicolas R

    Hi !
    We are flying to Thailand (Bangkok) tommorow (5th July), with my girlfriend.
    But we heard that she is pregnant, since 3 weeks now…
    I don’t want to take any risk, and we are afraid of the antimalarial medication(so we’ll not take it), especially because she’s pregnant.
    So we want to stay in Bangkok first, then Koh Samui (and maybe others islands around like Koh Pha Ngan, or Ang Thong National Park), and then around Phuket, and then come back in Bangkok
    Do we take any risks ? Can you give us some advices ? Thank you very much for your answer.

    • TravM Dr

      According to your itinerary, your risk to get malaria is extremely low especially if you use insect repellent regularly when going outdoor. We do not recommend her to use antimalarial medication also. Just use insect repellent.

  • UJ

    Hi, I am planning to travel to Koh Kut (Koh Kood) and Koh Chang with my 7 year old daughter. Is there still a risk of malaria there? Unfortunately mosquitoes ‘love’ my daughter and she often gets bidden even with all normal preventions in place.

  • Aurelie

    Hello, in one week, we will be in thailand.We go to bangkok, then take a train to chiang mai, stay in chiang mai 4-5 days with a trek during 2 days around chiang mai.After, we go tophuket and koh llanta.Is there a risk for malaria? Do we need to take medication.? Thank you for your answer

    • TravM Dr

      According to your itinerary, your risk is very, very low especially in the winter season like this.

      We do not recommend the use of antimalarial medication to prevent malaria in Thailand. Just prevent yourself from mosquito bite and aware sign/symptoms of malaria.

  • Dirk

    Hello,

    In early December we will fly to Bangkok and would like to learn kitesurfing. Now we do not know whether it is better to go to Phuket or Chumphon especially concerning malaria.
    Chumphon seem to be affected by malaria?
    Can you give us some advice, where to go best?
    I´m asking because one of us is pregnant.
    Thanks, greets Dirk

    • TravM Dr

      Risk of malaria in Phuket is virtually nil. But in some part of Chumphon, especially near the border area, there is some risk of malaria. So Phuket is much safer in term of malaria.

  • rachel

    Hi, Im traveling to Thailand in November, we will be travelling up to Chiang mai, then up a bit to Sappong, for a 3 day hilltribe trek to the Long Yao caves, im not sure if this goes ino the risk area,
    thanks Rachel

  • Andy

    Hi, my wife and two daughters (2 and 3 years old) are planning to visit Mae Hong Son and Mae Sai for a total of one month from July 15 to Aug 15. What would you recommend?

    Andy

    • TravM Dr

      We do not recommend the use of antimalarial medication for prevention of malaria in Thailand. But it doesn’t mean that your family do not need to prevent malaria.

      By the way, there is no malaria in the city of Mae Hong Son and city of Mae Sai. However if you plan to visit some more rural area. Please use the insect repellent and follow ABCD guideline from WHO.

  • Michal

    Will be spending couple of days at Koh Samui and then travelling from Surat Thani to Bangkok with the night train. Is there a risk of malaria in such a case? Especially on the train? any pills recommended? thanks in advance.

    • TravM Dr

      There is no need to take antimalarial pill for traveling in Koh Samui and also the night train. Risk of malaria there is virtually nil. However, the use of insect repellent is recommended.

  • tom

    Im going to live in Soi Dao province near Cambodia border, how much is possible to catch a malaria?

    • TravM Dr

      If you live in Thailand, you chance to get malaria is not high. We do not recommend to use antimalarial medication. Just prevent yourself from mosquito bite and aware sign/symptoms of malaria.

  • Heather

    We will be travelling by train from Hua Hin to Chumphon in February. We will stay overnight in the Novotel and travelling on to Koh Phangan the next morning. What are the malaria risks at this time and should we take medication?

  • MILH

    We are traveling from Bangkok and into the jungle around Kanchanaburi for 3 days, staying overnight in the jungle as well. Afterwords we are taking a bus south for Koh Tao and Koh Samui. The total duration of our stay in Thailand is 14-15 days.
    Would you with this information advise us to take Malaria preventives?
    Thank you in advance.

  • Pip

    I am travelling to a mountain resort just north of Chiang Mai in April, then on to Ko Samet, Hua Hin and Krabi, should I take malaria medication?
    Thank you, Pip

    • TravM Dr

      We do not recommend the use of antimalarial medication for prevention of malaria in Thailand. However, it doesn’t mean that you do not need to prevent malaria.

      Please follow ABCD guideline from WHO

      A. Be Aware of the risk, the incubation period and the main symptoms

      B. Avoid being Bitten by mosquitoes, especially between dusk and dawn

      C. Take antimalarial drugs (Chemoprophylaxis) to suppress infection where appropriate

      D. Immediately seek Diagnosis and treatment if a fever develops one week or more after entering an area where there is a malaria risk, and up to 3 months after departure.

      (Source: World Health Organization: http://www.who.int)

  • bellina

    i leave in samui for 6 years i never take any pills i nevers get any thing exept aliment intoxication du to a i stupid pharang who make a paella i known some travellers take some medication as lariam very good for the stomach don t take any thing if you wish to die in samui isn t from the malaria

  • Kirsti Berulfsen

    I am going to KOH CHANG in January. Do I need antimalarial tablets?

  • TravM Dr

    There is no need to take antimalarial pill for traveling in Koh Samui. Risk of malaria there is virtually nil. However, the use of insect repellent is recommended.

  • hubert

    Am travelling to Koh Samui beginning February this year.Do I need preventive antimalaria tablets? if yes which drug?
    Thanks for your answer

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  • […] get malaria in Thailand is very, very low. You may ask how low? please read this article “Risk to get malaria in Thailand”. Most part of Thailand is malaria free. We do have some risks but confine only in the jungle and […]

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