“ It is a serious, sometimes fatal, disease caused by a parasite. Malaria occurs in over 100 countries and territories. More than 40% of the people in the world are at risk. Large areas of Central and South America, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Repub „
Malaria is a parasite spread by infecting mosquitos. The parasite is called Plasmodium and breeds in the liver before infecting red blood cells and breeding there. The red blood cells will simultaneously burst releasing more and more parasites into the blood stream.
Malaria is found in some parts of South America such as Brazil, most of Africa and south-east Asia. Whatever season you are traveling in, you should always take anti-malarials to stay on the safe side. As I'm sure the leaflets have told you: It only takes one bite to contact malaria!
There are many different types of Anti-Malarials:
Chloroquin: This is now less than 60% effective on African mosquitos and theres increasing resistance elsewhere.
Larium: This tablet is over 90% effective. You take one tablet one week before you go, one a week during the trip and then the same for 4 weeks afterwards. Not completely sure on the pricing. Side effects include headache, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, paranoia and sleep disturbances. Don't take this if you plan on going scuba diving.
Doxycycline: For this medicine you take one a day during your trip, 2 days before arrival to the area and 4 week after. It's over 90% effective and quite affordable - only £6 for enough tablets for a 2 week stay. The main side effect is increased sun sensitivity so use plenty of sunscreen.
Malarone: This is the one I took when I went to South Africa for 2 weeks. It's the newest anti-malarial so is about 98% effective and also extremely expensive - I paid over £60 for enough tablets for a 2 week visit. It's taken everyday during your stay, 2 days before and for 1 week after. This anti-malarial has very few side effects so if anyone is sensitive to medication then this is probably the best one to take. However, I traveled during the UK summer and it was "winter" over there so very few mosquitos so I felt a bit cheated!
If you develop any of the following symptoms within a year of traveling to a malarious area, you are advised to see your GP because some strains of the parasite can remain dormant for months: headache, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea.
Under the soon to be revised UK guidelines, Lariam is the antimalarial of choice for certain areas of Asia, subsaharan africal and amazonian south america. It is said to be about 90% efficient at prevention of malaria if complied with. There has been a lot of material in the press about travellers going mad whilst taking or after using Lariam, and I have met some of them and they do exist. The key issue is deciding if you are the right person to take it. Do not use if you have had problems in the past with anxiety, depresssion or any kind of psychological/psychiatric problem. Do not use if you have had fits/unexplained faints/seizures or epilepsy. Do not use if an immediate family member has had fit/seizures/epilepsy. Certain medicines do not mix, and it should not be used in pregnancy. The problem remains why do people react badly. My theory, which I am researching at the moment, is that travellers who have minor issues that they do not consider worthy of mention to a doctor may find that Lariam makes them worse. Long haul travel is a stressful event in its own right, and may have something to do with this. If you don't want to use Lariam, then the two main alternatives are doxycycline (but you may get a photosensitive rash or thrush) or Malarone (not licenced yet and frantically expensive) Get your malaria advice from a specialist travel clinic and do not rely on your GP, friend or family to give you the best advice.