If you're in the area for not too long, you can take prophylaxis (antimalarials), but don't take it for more than a couple of months, it is not good for your liver. I lived in heavily infested areas for many years without contracting it despite being stung many times and not taking prohylaxsis, so don't overreact on the risk of getting it. Nevertheless, if you do get it it is a serious disease. When I got it in the Democratic Republic of the Congo it put me in the hospital for a week, and in earlier times would have killed me.
The trick is to act fast, before the parasites have multiplied. My case was bad because I was at home in Europe
in a country I had just moved to, and it happened to strike with the first symptoms on Friday afternoon. By the time I had registered on the national health service
and had my doctor's appointment it was Tuesday morning... At least the diagnosis was easy.
If at all possible, carry a couple pf boxes of Coartem with you. This the way our African doctor treated us on our mine site, and these guys know much more about malaria than most in the West (if they're good of course). It is a 3 day course you take at the onset of typical malarial symptoms. Very little side effects, and very effective at killing it before it has begun. People who had malaria hardly missed a day at work.
If taking prophylaxis such as malerone or mefliam, beware of the side effects and experiment
what works for you. Mefliam (formerly Lariam) works very well for me but for others is almost worse than the disease. For malerone, I get severe dehydration symptoms and I stopped taking it whilst on holiday this year. Others don't have that problem.
NOT TAKING ANYTHING IS NOT STUPID. Often it can be a wise decision not to take antimalarials, particularly if you live there for extended periods. Or sometimes you just run out. No need to panic. But be aware of the disease, know its symptoms, and act fast should you be unlucky. Cures are very effective these days.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN THE CURE. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks. Don't go out around dusk if possible. Use netting. Stay away from stagnant water
, such as puddles. Be aware that musquitoes can only be infected if they bite a carrier, so cities are worse than the countryside if they are not clean (more people = more risk), particularly because the musquitoes don't have to fly far before they find another subject. Many cities still have open sewage, this is a real malaria breeding ground.