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CDC India Malaria Risk: For Military and not average travelers?

CDC India Malaria Risk: For Military and not average travelers?

Aug 9th, 2013, 06:16 AM
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CDC India Malaria Risk: For Military and not average travelers?

I am starting a new post to clarify the CDC malaria guidelines for India. Footnote 3 on the CDC page states: "This risk estimate is based largely on cases occurring in US military personnel who travel for extended periods of time with unique itineraries that likely do not reflect the risk for the average US traveler." If I am interpreting this correctly, prophlylaxis may not be necessary for the average traveler.

In 2010, 931,000 Americans visited India. There were 261 reported cases of malaria with 9 fatalities. Only 4% (11 cases) were in tourists. The majority (54%) of cases were in individuals visiting friends and relatives, possibly in more remote areas. Most infections occurred in August with a second, much smaller peak in November.

Obviously if you become infected, malaria is a real problem but the data suggests the risk is quite low.

Roosevelt.
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Aug 9th, 2013, 07:52 AM
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Roosevelt, go back to the cdc page where you found the footnote. That footnote is NOT attached to any portion of the text on India. The footnote is attached to the malaria risk of "high" in Afghanistan.

I know you are concerned about your upcoming trip to India. I believe you decided to use bite prevention, which for your circumstances and itinerary seems to be a reasonable plan.

It is true that people visiting friends or relatives are at greater risk for malaria, in part because they often underestimate the chances of contracting malaria and do not take precautions. Family members in India often tell them there is no problem, or they may remember never taking precautions when they were living there and not getting sick. This is complicated by the possibility of "partial immunity" (a now-disputed idea about exposure to malaria).

Still, the number of US travelers who have contracted malaria in India provides no insurance for you. The stats may be falsely reassuring, as you have no idea what those travelers were doing - docking on a cruise ship is different from visiting a tiger park, for instance. You can only make decisions based on your unique situation and all of the available information.
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Aug 9th, 2013, 07:55 AM
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PS There are some areas of India with distinct seasonality for malaria and other areas that have no seasonal surge/decline pattern. This might make a difference for you if you were going somewhere in India for an extended time (6 mos or a year) but has little relevance for someone traveling in India.
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Aug 9th, 2013, 10:00 AM
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Kathie:

I really appreciate your advice. It is always valuable!

As a physician, I contacted the CDC and they confirmed that the footnote does not apply to India. When you search for India alone on the CDC Travelers page, ALL footnotes for all countries are listed and it is misleading. They are going to correct that.

Interestingly, they lack epidemiological data that is relevant deciding on prophylaxis. If 11 US tourists contracted malaria in 2010, the risk must be low.

Thanks again.

Roosevelt.
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Aug 9th, 2013, 11:11 AM
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Roosevelt, glad to help. If you want to look at numbers of people who contract malaria, I think the better data to look at is the WHO data on incidence of malaria. The mosquitos don't check passports before biting. The cdc considers not only data from US visitors, but they consider the WHO data in making recommendations for prophylaxis. They also share information with other countries. The British have a goodly amount of data as well. You can check their NHS Fit For Travel website for their recommendations and their excellent malarial risk maps.
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Aug 9th, 2013, 02:11 PM
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Kathie:

That explains the difference between the CDC and U.K. recommendations. The U.K. designates northern India as low to no risk and recommends bite prevention only. If I lived in the U.K. I would not be prophylaxing.

The epidemiology is important. Risks that have very low probability are often worth taking.

Thanks again for responding.

Roosevelt.
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Aug 9th, 2013, 08:02 PM
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This is the verbatim response I received from the MD at the CDC regarding the apparent low epidemiological risk:

"That is not the right way to determine risk. Keep in mind that most people who travel to India take chemoprophylaxis. Thus, there would have been much greater numbers of cases of malaria if no one had used any preventive measures. Yes, malaria chemoprophylaxis is recommended for travel to India as you describe."

Roosevelt.
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Aug 9th, 2013, 08:37 PM
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Hi Roosevelt, thanks for posting the CDC response. I agree with them that the number of travelers who contract malaria does not represent the epidemiological risk, which is why I find the numbers from WHO so useful. They reflect the number of reported cases in an area - local or traveler. But even the WHO numbers are an underestimate, as they rely on reporting. In some places the reporting is very poor. India, despite its advances in many areas, still vastly underreports the incidence of malaria. The last figures I read indicated that they estimated that India underreports by a factor some somewhere between 2 and 10.
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Aug 10th, 2013, 05:51 AM
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Kathie:

The additional information you provided has been very helpful. It appears that the real malarial risk is much higher than one would extrapolate from epidemiological data. It changes my risk equation and I will most likely opt for prophylaxis.

Thanks again.

Roosevelt.
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Aug 10th, 2013, 09:06 AM
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Roosevelt. Given your interest in the disease and the stats, you may find this paper produced by the London School of Hygeine and Tropical medicine of interest.

http://malaria.lshtm.ac.uk/sites/def...ts/Binder1.pdf
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Aug 10th, 2013, 11:10 AM
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As you have a prexisting condition as noted have you spoken to a hematologist and/or ID specialist about your particular risk?

How risky is it to take a short course of malarial prophylaxis?
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Aug 10th, 2013, 02:59 PM
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The true risk is unknown but my guess is that it is low. I reacted to Malarone a few years ago but doxycycline is a total different drug. I will need to be on the drug for 7 weeks.

Roosevelt.
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Aug 10th, 2013, 03:03 PM
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Crellston:

Lots of info in that paper.

Thanks.

Roosevelt.
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Aug 10th, 2013, 03:07 PM
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What about Lariam? We've taken it several times with no issues and its so easy to take as you know.
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Aug 10th, 2013, 09:20 PM
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I was doing some research on anti malarials before deciding which one to take and came across this NY Times article published last month about new FDA warnings on Lariam.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/30/bu...drug.html?_r=0
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Aug 11th, 2013, 05:34 AM
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Kikiv: I have heard of similar warnings in the past but also me and my wife have taken Lariam several times before with no issues. However thanks for the link.
Larry
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Aug 11th, 2013, 06:49 AM
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The travel doctor I am going to see next week appears to also prescribe Lariam as well as Malarone.
I have read that Malarone has side affects (vomiting, diarrhea and in extreme cases renal failure) so clearly this is not without it's disadvantages.
As Roosevelt states he had an adverse reaction to Malarone in the past.

Larry is there a specific reason why you choose Lariam over Malarone of Doxycycline?

It seems choosing the "right" drug is a conundrum because I either way you choose to go there are risks involved.
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Aug 11th, 2013, 06:56 AM
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I took one dose of Lariam and had very bad nightmares and the begining of paranoia. I have taken Malarone for weeks at a time with no side effects whatsoever. Everyone's system is different, but I think the risks with Lariam are too high. Roosevelt - did you take the Malarone with food?
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Aug 11th, 2013, 07:15 AM
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It was recommended by an infectious disease specialist. At the univ. medical center I work at. This was probably at least 15 yrs. ago. My wife, son and me have taken it every time we've gone to India, about 3-4 times and have had no issues or side effects. My current PCP, also and id specialist has prescribed it for me since and we've been fine. I have head about the neurological some have experienced. What can I say except that it works for us.
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Aug 11th, 2013, 08:19 AM
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Thanks for you reply Larry. If I had taken Lariam in the past without any adverse affects I would probably continue to take it. As Thursdaysd points out, everyone's body is different but never having taken either of the drugs, so far it seems that Malarone's possible side affects are more benign.
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