Early diagnosis and treatment is critical as malaria can be life-threatening. Travelers who develop symptoms of malaria during or after travel should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Because of the delayed nature of the signs and symptoms of malaria, healthcare providers need to take a thorough travel history of their patients.
Treatment is guided by the type of Plasmodium causing the infection, the geographical area in which the infection was acquired (and local patterns of drug resistance), and how sick the person is. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and children require special consideration. People with uncomplicated malaria can be treated with oral medication; however, more severe disease requires that medication be administered directly into a vein (intravenous).
Chloroquine is often used to treat malaria; however, other medication may be needed in cases of chloroquine-resistant infections. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends treatment, particularly for P. falciparum malaria, with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).
Infections with P. vivax and P. ovale can relapse as the parasite can remain dormant in the liver, and they therefore require additional treatment.