Altitude/Malaria for Kenya Travel

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Sep 8th, 2005, 11:25 AM
  #1
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Altitude/Malaria for Kenya Travel

Hey all...I was booked on a three week safari with Micato for July 2006 and have backed out of it; I'm terribly afraid of altitude sickness...I get migraines and have gotten them both just going to the mountains locally and very bad when visiting the Grand Canyon. Can anyone share any experiences they might have had with this? I'm also concerned about the anti-malarials, as I've read they can cause headaches as a side effect. Any information appreciated, thanks.

Jane
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Sep 8th, 2005, 11:33 AM
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Hello,

I'm sorry to hear that your health concerns are affecting your trip. I can't answer re altitude sickness, but as for the anti-malarials -- I suggest doing a drug trial before you go to see how you react to the drugs. That way if you don't care for the side effects, you can switch drugs.

The one with the fewest side effects is Malarone, so I'd suggest you try that one first.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 8th, 2005, 01:49 PM
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Do you know at what elevation you get migraines? I think the highest elevation parks are around 5000-6000 feet and generally altitude symptoms don't begin until about 8000 feet and up (most aircraft cabins are pressurized at 8000').

You could consider choosing lower elevation parks like Tsavo, Amboseli, Samburu.

As for anti-malarials, I haven't heard of headaches as a side effect but I'm sure anything is possible. I think Julian's suggestion of trying it out before you leave is a great idea. My husband and I both took Malarone last time. He experience no side effects while I had an upset stomach for the first few days (but not enough to stop taking it).
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Sep 8th, 2005, 02:05 PM
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As Patty states most altitude - NBO at 5000' and some places in the Mara and Serengeti between 3500-5000'. However, the Ngorongoro Crater Rim is at about 7000'.

At the Grand Canyon - is it altitude sicknes or looking down into the depth of the Canyon that upsets you? I also have issues with being up high and looking down, whether a mountain or into a canyon. Hey, I won't stand near the edge of a subway platform in NYC.

As to Malaria meds, while you can sample these before taking, a tab like Lariam (no longer recommended because of its side-effects) has a long life inside the body, so you might not have any effect till sometime after taking 1 or 2 tabs. And if you decide to sample Malarone (the one now recommended) - how will you know which is affecting you.

While there have been some upset tummy problems with Malarone, it's often because people took on an empty stomach; if with food, it's recommended preferrably to take with dairy - milk, yougurt, cheese.

The other suggested pill if one can't take Lariam or Malarone is doxycycline. But this is not specific for malaria, rather an antibiotic. However, one is likely to become sun sensitive, women often have discharge problems, and you have to take these for 30-days upon return from Africa.

Surprise, surprise - the altitude can be a benefit for travel in Africa. At altitutes above 5000' there is rarely, if any, malaria problems. It's too cold up there. So there's really no need for malaria prophylactics. Folks living in NBO, don't take malaria meds.

Only you can make a decision that is right for you.

 
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Sep 8th, 2005, 02:38 PM
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Sandi

Where did you get the information that larium is no longer recommended?
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Sep 8th, 2005, 02:38 PM
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Hello,

The drug trials for malaria meds are usually done about a month or so before you go. That gives you plenty of time to clear Drug 1 out of your system before trying Drug 2 if Drug 1 didn't agree with you, so you'll know which drug is affecting you. Obviously, this is something that should be done under medical supervision, taking your general health and any other meds you are on into account.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 8th, 2005, 02:40 PM
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Hello again,

My understanding (from my colleagues in tropical medicine) is that Lariam has not been officially 'de-recommended' -- if you've taken it before with no problems, there's no reason to stop taking it. However, for people who have never taken an anti-malarial, prescribing Malarone has become very popular because of the lower likelihood of side-effects.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 8th, 2005, 03:22 PM
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Thanks so much, it never occurred to me to do a "test" on which malaria medicines to take.

With regard to the migraines at altitude, it's not vertigo, it's altitude. As I said in my first post, it happened when I went to the mountains here in California (unsure of how many feet) and the Grand Canyon, which is about 5,000 feet. I was sick, bad, for two days at the Grand Canyon, which nearly ruined my trip. That's why I was very leery of Africa; the guy at Micato told me the Mt. Kenya Safari Club (where my tour would have ended up) was 7,000 feet. So, something to consider. Thanks so much for the input, all.

Jane
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Sep 9th, 2005, 01:19 AM
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Hello,

Most travel doctors recommend a trial, but surprisingly few patients opt for one -- even though the side effects of the drugs can really affect your trip.

If altitude is a problem but you still want to go on safari, take a look at some of the southern African countries -- generally speaking, they are at a much lower altitude. This is also true of southern Tanzania.

Cheers,
Julian
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Sep 9th, 2005, 05:51 AM
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sandi
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Lariam may not be "de-recommended" for Africa, but it sure is for Southeast Asia where it is no longer effective.

With the newer (since '00 or '01 in the States) Malarone available and with fewer, if any, side-effects, it is the one most recommended as the malaria prophylactic these days.

 
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