Not trying to scare you or anything…
Frolicking about on a safari expedition may sound like the dream vacation of a lifetime, but in reality you need to make preparations in order for everything to go smoothly. Any guess as to what the most important preparation among these is?
Any guesses? I’ll give you a hint: it starts with ‘m’ and rhymes with ‘fralaria’… Weird. How did you know it was ‘malaria’?
And more importantly, just what steps can you take when it comes to malaria prevention? Well, let’s go back and figure out what the heck malaria actually is first, which is essentially a parasite that causes a flu-like illness. It can still be quite fatal in some parts of the world, depending on how accessible medical aid is. How, though, is malaria transmitted exactly?
A hungry female Anopheles mosquito–the carrier of this pesky disease–bites an infected person and gets a little bit of their blood. Now they’re carrying some of this infected blood in their bellies, which they will then pass on into the bloodstream of the next uninfected person they bite. And so on and so forth.
Now some of you may very rightfully be wondering where one can get their hands on a vaccine for all of this. The short answer is that it’s hard to create an effective vaccine against malaria protozoa, as their surface appearances change constantly. Hard to know who to keep out when you don’t even know what they look like!
There are, however, some pretty effective medicines that will keep you in tip-top shape. But which one is perfect for your situation?
For last-minute trips…choose Atovaquone/Proguanil (Malarone).
Why Atovaquone? The drug is started 1-2 days before travelling to an at-risk area. They’re also ideal for shorter trips, as you only have to take the medicine up to seven days after returning instead of four weeks. Kids can take a pediatric form of the tablet as well and side effects are uncommon. The catch? This pill runs a little pricier than others and not advised for those with renal impairment. So if you’re rich and have good kidneys, book that sub-Saharan adventure stat.
If you’re pregnant…choose chloroquine.
Chloroquine can be taken during all trimesters of pregnancy. Not to mention, it only has to be taken weekly so it’s more suitable for longer trips overseas. Mefloquine, a similar medicine, can be taken under the same circumstances as well. Keep in mind, though, that this may not be effective in areas resistant to chloroquine or mefloquine. It’s also worth noting that chloroquine can induce some pretty nasty psoriasis flare ups as well.
If you’re tight on cash…choose doxycycline.
The least expensive antimalarial is also good for last-minute travellers; the same one to two day window applies here. It also may be a good bet for dermatologically-challenged among us, as some people with chronic acne problems are already on doxycycline. Beware, however, of the long list of contingencies: it may cause an upset stomach, increased sensitivity to the sun, and may increase the risk of vaginal yeast infections. Pregnant people and kids under eight years old will have to look elsewhere for malaria medicine, as doxycycline is not intended for them.
If you’re traveling to an area infected largely by the P.vivax malarial strain…choose Primaquine.
Plasmodium vivax, known around the kitchen table as P.vivax, is largely found in South America, Asia, and some parts of Africa. This strain of malaria is carried by over 70 mosquito species, so it makes sense that a medicine specific to fighting this strain would exist. Again, this medicine is good for last-minute travellers and shorter trips, but is not intended for use by those with a certain glucose deficiency–a G6PD deficiency, to be exact. If you plan on traveling to a malaria-infected area and are unsure whether or not you have this glucose deficiency, talk with your doctor before choosing an antimalarial.
Armed with all this newfound knowledge, choosing the right antimalarial might seem like a breeze. How, though, do you know you’re getting the best bang for your buck? One way to be sure you’re getting the best deals is to use an online pharmacy for your malaria medication. Staying healthy doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg…or any body part, for that matter! If you’re unsure whether or not the online pharmacy you’ve discovered is the real deal, check our list of online pharmacies to avoid and hope the name doesn’t pop up.