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Fredweinman

Malaria advice

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We are heading to Zambia in June 2016 and would prefer to not take the malari medication. Would,love to hear pro's and con' s and any feedback on how the bug situation is in June
Many thanks, fred

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Posted (edited)

Having had Plasmodium falciparum cerebral malaria, the short answer is take the pills you may suffer some side effects but that’s preferable to dying or even just ending up in hospital.

 

The longer answer is I don’t know what the bug situation is in June in Zambia I’ve never been at that time of year generally out in the bush I’ve never found mosquitoes to be much of a problem; however it only takes one infected mosquito to give you malaria. You have to consider everywhere you will go on your trip, the remote bush where there are few people doesn’t pose a big risk because without a large human population there isn’t a significant reservoir of malaria, the risk is much higher in towns and cities. Having said that you cannot be sure that one of the camp staff hasn’t just been on leave in their home village and returned with malaria if there are mosquitoes around then it’s possible you could be infected, at least it is a risk. Even of you are not taking tablets that risk may be very small but having had malaria it’s not one I’m willing to take, in recent years I have always taken Malarone or now the cheaper generic version and have never suffered any side effects that would make me consider not taking them. On safari I do sometimes find I can’t sleep that could be the tablets or it could be for any number of reasons it’s impossible to say for sure.

 

On the subject of Lariam or Mefloquine and more on malaria I refer you to what I wrote in this thread.

 

Anti-Malaria medication? For the Okavango and beyond!!!

 

You can also take the antibiotic Doxycycline as a malaria prophylactic but I wouldn’t advise this purely because one of the possible side effects is sun sensitivity which would not be good thing to have on safari.

 

Don’t take risks with malaria P. falciparum can kill very quickly, not fortunately in all cases as I would not be sitting here typing this, because I have rather more experience of malaria than I would have liked I always feel I should comment when this topic comes up. However at the same time I don’t have any medical qualifications and as such I’m always a little bit nervous of commenting on medical topics, whether it’s malaria tablets or which vaccines you do or don’t need this is why I would always recommend that you get advice from a doctor or your local travel clinic. It’s fine to ask us to advise which of the various tablets to take but the question of whether to take them or not should be left to the medically qualified; I have no problem at all with anyone saying they choose not to take malaria tablets but I would consider it irresponsible if they were to advise others to do the same however small the risk may actually be.

Edited by inyathi
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@@Fredweinman...We were just there is August. Every time that we go to Africa we take the medication, now the generic Malarone. We have never had any side effects. It is recommended by our travel medicine person along with other preventatives. You never know. So, my question to you is why would you take the risk when malaria is one of the leading killers in Africa?

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1 cover up well with long trousers and shirt

 

2 use insect repealant

 

3 claims of a area being malaria fee are a tourist promotion. All African wildlife reserves have some degree of risk, this is higher when it is warmer.

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Inyathi said it all.

I had malaria in July. As a visitor the question really is why would you not take it!

 

It is not a disease to mess around with.

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I agree with everything said above!

 

Getting malaria is no joke! The anti-malaria med side effects (should you actually have any) pale into insignificance next to having malaria...

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In case this topic needs any reinforcing, I should point out that I lived in West Africa for 15 years, malaria was like the common cold - I would get it 3x or so a year. As soon as I felt the onset of symptoms then I would take artmether based drugs and feel awful for three days. It would take two weeks for blood sugar levels and energy to recover though. Fast forward to Zambia where I have had it twice in almost 6 years. Each time it has made the Ghanaian malaria look like a walk in the park. In July I had it come on while on the way into town (Lusaka). I recognise the symptoms and carry drugs in my bag whenever I travel, so I took them immediately (the time and lack of confidence in tests is not worth it to me). People react with different initial symptoms (and the symptoms are not always the same each time), so there is a very high chance of not actually realising it is malaria unless you are very familiar with it. These symptoms can feel like flu or be like a stomach upset, aching joints, severe headaches, so in short can be like the stuff we all get while travelling. The malaria test is not always conclusive. The parasite goes through a cycle over time in the body, and if you are tested at the wrong time then a negative result can be thrown up despite the fact you are positive. All this takes time.... meanwhile your red blood cells are being destroyed as the parasites multiply inside them.

 

Luckily we were staying with friends (at the wonderful Pioneer Camp), because I was literally in bed for 5 days. On day three once I started feeling a bit better then Julia came down with it. We ended up spending over a week in Pioneer Camp and coming back to the lodge shattered. My friend Paul that owns Pioneer is not as familiar with symptoms as I am and ended up flying home with it while going on holiday at the end of the season last year. Attempting to fight the symptoms, not being 100% sure of what it was. He ended up almost dying in a UK hospital. I know many people with similar stories. Not knowing what it is, or waiting for 3 days while a 'first world' based doctor tries to figure out what is wrong with you and wait for test results can end up being the end of you.

 

June is a relatively cold month, but mosquitoes are still around. Mosquitoes can breed in the water trapped in a maize cob. so there are no shortages of places in both town and country to breed and bite. Zambia is a malarial zone and people get it all year round.

 

As has been said; see your doctor and unless there is a medical reason (allergy or whatever) not to take, then he or she would be an idiot if they recommend or endorse not taking prophylactics in a malaria zone.

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To all, thank you for the advice. We had a friend have a psychotic episode while on safari that was first diagnosed as a reaction to the malari medicine. This is what first got me to ask the question. Further information confirmed drug interactions and alcohol was the cause and not the malaria meds

 

Thanks again, I got a little nervous. Thank you for the sound advice

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@@Fredweinman it was good you asked this question because I think the answers in this thread will help many first-timers to Africa.

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Much good advice in this thread.

 

Different people react differently to the same drug. On a trip to West Africa I and a friend both took Lariam. I had no problems, but he had nightmares. So I would recommend starting the program in advance of leaving so that you have the opportunity to change to a different drug if necessary.

 

On another trip to a swampy malarial area we collected up all the different repellents people had brought with them including deet at different strengths as well as natural products to try them all out. Many did reduce the number of bites but nothing was 100% effective so antimalarials are a must in such areas.

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A follow up comment. I just watched a seasoned Africa traveler, 30 plus trips, get malaria. First time he did not take Malarone. His girlfriend waited three days before seekng medical attention, he was too sick to make a sound decision. Long term damage and probably will never travel to Africa again

 

Beyond no malarone the bigger mistake was avoiding getting immediate healthcare when symptoms appeared.

 

Again, thanks to everyone for your passion and advice to my question last year

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all African wildlife areas are affected by malaria, some more than others, the risk varies according to season

 

 

all visitors are advised to take preventative medication

 

 

people who live there all the time do not due to the long term side effects

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