Anyone NOT taking malaria drugs?

Jan 17th, 2008, 11:14 AM
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Anyone NOT taking malaria drugs?

I've checked other threads but haven't found this:

I can't take Larium due to "conflicting" health issues.

I'm supposed to start Malarone tomorrow but reading the insert scares me.

I DO have a history of depression and anxiety as well as stomach/nausea problems related to a surgery. The last place I want to be if any of the side effects hit me is in the Serengeti!

I'd rather have them at home recuperating.

I'm only gone two weeks.

Would I be really stupid to take my chances and NOT take the meds?
photogal is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 11:56 AM
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The good thing about Malarone is if you have problems with it, you can stop taking it and very soon it will be out of your system and should not cause continuing problems (as opposed to Larium which takes longer to get out of your system).

If you read about people discussing the side effects they had, I think you will find that the side effects from Malarone, if there are any, are not as severe.

If you have concerns about more serious side effects, maybe there is still time to discuss with your doctor whether you want to take.

When we went on safari last May, I was concerned about these issues but neither my husband nor I had any problems with Malarone. My mother (who is 64) could only take it with a good sized meal otherwise she did not feel well, but again, this issue was short lived.

If you are thinking about not taking it, I would think about do the mosquitos like you? I am the one always attracting them and getting bit so I never considered not taking it. That being said, I don't think I got one mosquito bite (though I saw some) and it was at the end of the rainy season, (but I got a lot of something else on my ankles). I would point out there are people that get Malaria and one of our camp workers said he thought he had it and was returning to Arusha to get checked.

If you are to start tomorrow, you probably have a few days before your first game drive and by then you should know if it is causing you problems and can stop taking it (and be extra cautious re prevention).

Good Luck and have a great trip.


CAH85 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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Safari camp staff do not take malaria drugs, right? So What do they do? I think they are very aware of malarial symptoms and at the first sign of having it they get tested and treatment which seems to work very well. Am I wrong?

The problem we might have in the USA, etc. is convincing a Doctor to test for malaria.

regards - tom
cary999 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 12:08 PM
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Reading the insert for aspirin is also scary. Breathing the air is scary. Lots out there is scary, and coming down with malaria is the scariest.

That aside, Malarone is currently the safest drug out there as a preventative for malaria. There is no inoculation, so these drugs are what we have. At least with a history or anxiety/depression you're not taking Lariam. The next alternative is doxcy, which has it's own side-effects, sun-sensitivity being one. And if visiting during summer in East Africa, on the Equator, the sun is very very strong.

Only you can decide whether or not to take, though during dry season(which Jan/Feb are) the likelihood of mossies is reduced. It's still strongly recommended (with or without meds) to use repellent during mossie biting time - dusk-to-dawn - on exposed skin, wrists, ankels (though you should be wearing socks at night); not on face or back of neck. And, do wash off before retiring to bed. Have your room/tent sprayed when you go out for dinner, but not over your bedding/pillows.

When taking Malarone, you must take with food, preferably dairy - milks, yougurt, cheese - why breakfast is best. However, others prefer to take after dinner so if they get an upset tummy, they sleep thru it.

Though I've rarely seen a mossie or even been bitten in 13/years of travel to Africa, I never forego my meds for malaria.

sandi is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 12:13 PM
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As CAH - been bitten on the ankels, but those are (if on beach) sand flies; (in/around grass) pepper flies. Do bring an anticeptic cream for itching just in case "the flies get you!"

There's nothing out there to protect from tse-tse flies, just avoid or kill them. Thankfully, these don't cause sleeping sickness.

Safari njema!
sandi is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 12:32 PM
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Tom -- you're right, camp staff don't take these drugs. But usually they have some medication available which they take on the first signs of malaria. There isn't always a doctor around the next corner of a remote bush camp.

I also don't take these drugs anymore, but I always carry some as stand-by medication on safari (never needed them so far). I took these drugs during my first safaris, so I know for sure that my brand of anti-malarials don't have any negative side effects in case I need them.
nyama is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 01:04 PM
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Don't think I'd dream of NOT taking anti malaria meds. There are 2 other types besides Malorone, which is one of the more expensive ones, and they are Mefloquine and Doxycycline, you may want to check them out. Doxy is the least expensive of the 3, as the nurse at a health clinic in New Mexico just told me yesterday. Ve
Ve is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 01:07 PM
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Mefloquine = the generic name for Lariam, and specific for malaria.

Doxycycline = generic antibiotic, not specific for malaria, but offered to those who for whatever reason can't take Lariam or Malarone. These are also taken daily, user is prone to sun sensitivity and women to "thrush" (discharge); has to be taken for 28-30/days once you leave the affected area.

sandi is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 01:23 PM
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This is an alternative that alot of people use in higher risk areas such as Zambia etc. It is homeopathic and from experience have had it fight off malarial symptons.

For the tourist who is staying for under 1 month I would say take the drugs. Though over that, I would look at alternatives. It mainly only occurs in places like Vic falls and other built up areas.

The reason most camp staff dont take drugs is becasue of the long term damage they do to your health. eg more than one month.

I have had it a couple of times, so know the signs for treatment. It feels like a bad hangover to begin with......................
Shumba is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 01:53 PM
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Thanks, everyone.

I'll start tonight and see how it goes. I don't usually react to medication, so hopefully this one will be the same.

(I'll make sure I chew my food well
photogal is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 08:19 PM
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On my first safari to Kenya, i took the medication and had awful reactions and stopped taking it after day two. I have never taken the medications on subsequent trips ....... you are best served to take medical advice from your family doctor, though .....
HariS is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 08:37 PM
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I would absolutely take it. I've taken Malarone without any problems at all. One thing to consider - once you have Malaria, it stays in your body for the rest of your life. You will get over the symptoms but will have repeated bouts later on. It's not deathly (if treated properly) but the idea of having a chronic compromise of my health is scary, especially if there's something I can do to prevent it.
I have friends who grew up in tropical zones and of course they don't take malaria meds. But they have a different immune system that has adapted over generations to deal with malaria. And they know it's in their blood for life. One of my friends has such a low response to it that to her it's nothing more than a cold to me. she just stays in bed for 3-4 days and is fine. Usually gets it every couple years. For me, I'm pretty sure I would die without treatment.
lerasp is offline  
Jan 17th, 2008, 08:44 PM
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P.S: forgot to mention ...... i do live in the tropics
HariS is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 05:06 AM
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Malaria is a nasty disease, that once you have, stays in your system for life. A friend visited Kenya some 30+/hrs ago before the new preventative (single) pills available. Came down with malaria, was treated, but still on occasions has flare-ups.

Millions die of malaria yearly, most children. There is no inoculation, though they've been working on one as long as I can recall. The meds are a preventative and still no guarantee you won't get malaria; why repellents are still necessary. However, if you do contract the disease and have taken meds, supposedly your systems and recovery will be less and sooner.

Just learned something - those with Sickle-cell anemia (blacks, predominately get this). Well, if they have only one of the cells (from one parent) rather than the two cells (from both parents), they're immune to malaria. If this is the case... what a trade-off! Life with Sickle-cell or know you won't get malaria if traveling to an area where you might contract the disease!
sandi is offline  
Jan 18th, 2008, 05:10 AM
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I'd really advise you to talk to a travel doc who can help you balance out the risk of taking vs the risk of not taking.

While it is true that a lot of people working long term in Africa don't take the meds (since the side effects can be different with long term use), it is also true that a lot of them get malaria!
ann_nyc is offline  
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