Mosquito bites are irritating - and can be fatal. Malaria and Dengue Fever are serious diseases carried by mosquitoes.
Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are defined as malarial areas with low rates of transmission while the rest of Cambodia should be considered as high risk malarial areas.
Dengue fever is prevalent especially in heavily populated areas. Insect protection measures should be taken throughout the day.
Because mosquitos breed in still standing water, in the wet season mosquito activity is increased. However mosquitoes may still be active in the dry season.
Malaria in Cambodia - Facts
Most tourists to Cambodia only visit Siem Reap, the temples of Angkor, and Phnom Penh. In all these areas malaria is NOT a significant problem for the visitor. So, if you only travel to these destinations, taking antimalarial drugs is really not necessary. You should however take precautionary measures against mosquito bites (see Dengue Fever).
It's a different story in all other regions of Cambodia. If e.g. you are travelling to the southern coast - including the islands, or to the eastern provinces, like Mondulkiri, Ratannakiri and Kratie, please do take precautionary measures to reduce the risk of mosquito bites and contracting malaria.
- Wear long sleeves and trousers, preferrably light-colored, and especially between dusk and dawn.
- Use insect repellent, mosquito coils etc
- Sleep under a mosquito net or in a screened room with a/c if possible
- Air conditioning does help keep the mosquitoes away due to the lower temperature.
- Avoid perfumed toiletries.
- Take antimalarial drugs to suppress infection when appropriate.
Malaria though potentially fatal, is treatable if diagnosed quickly.
If whilst travelling or within three months of travelling, you develop flu like symptoms (such as fever, chills, pain, weakness, muscle aches, vomiting, cough, diarrhoea or abdominal pain) you must seek medical attention and tell your doctor that you have been travelling in a malarious area.
Contrary to the mosquito carrying the malaria parasite which only bites at night, dengue fever is transmitted mainly during the day by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito, popularly known as the 'tiger mosquito' as it wears yellow stripes. This mosquito is much more prevalent in densely populated areas than it is in the countryside, also contrary to the mosquito carrying malaria.
There is only a small risk to travellers, except during epidemics, which usually occur during and just after the wet season. Having said that, it is still advisable to take precautionary measures to avoid mosquito bites (see in the column to the left).
Dengue fever is a viral disease and, like malaria, symptoms of dengue fever resemble a bad case of flu, including high fever, headache, joint and muscle pains, nausea and vomiting. After a few days a red rash appears on the body, usually starting on the torso and spreading to the limbs. When that happens, you know you have started recovering from Dengue Fever. However, lethargy and depression can last for a month or more. If these symptoms persist, you should consult a doctor.
There is no medical treatment for dengue fever. Your only options are taking a lot of rest (well, since dengue fever makes you extremely tired, that's what you'll want to do anyway) and drink plenty of fluids.