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, physicians need to take a thorough travel history of their patients.
Treatment is guided by the species of Plasmodium causing the infection, the geographical area in which the infection was acquired (and local patterns of drug resistance), and how sick the patient is. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and children require special consideration. Patients with uncomplicated malaria can be treated with oral medication; however, more severe disease requires intravenous medication.
Chloroquine is often used to treat malaria; however, other medication may be needed in cases of chloroquine-resistant infections. The 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.