We were wondering if anyone out there travelling through Laos could give some advice on taking anti malaria medication. We will be travelling through Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Van Vieng (overnight) over the course of about 2 weeks. We've read that the more populated areas of Laos have minimal risk and are wondering what other people have decided to do when travelling through these areas.
We'd really appreciate any advice
#1 crow has been a member since 26/8/2006. Posts: 3
Haven't traveled through Laos yet, will in November, but have traveled to many mosquito prone regions and live in sub tropical oz where mozzies and their diseases are always present. Have never had shots, have never taken preventative medication and have never been sick. (If a mosquito is in the vicinity, I will be selected over everyone else ... so maybe I'm incredibly lucky)
My advice is to boost your immune system as much as possible, be as healthy as you can before and while you travel (moderate ingestion of Beer Lao excepted), use preventative measures around dusk, when the mozzies emerge for their evening feed (cover your skin - with light coloured clothing - at least you can see them and use DEET products if necessary).
I believe internal medication weakens the system rather than enhances it. There is an increasing problem of resistance to anti-malarials in most parts of the world. An informative site is www.traveldoctor.co.uk. Maybe check this out and make your own decision.
Hope this helps
#2 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
After the last post i came across this site which may be of interest to you http://www.iamkohchang.com/KC_Essentials/malaria.htm
#3 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
Thanks so much for taking the time to repsond. You've helped to clarify a few things for me and reinforced what I was already thinking. I have been to Vietnam and Cambodia and never taken medication, instead taking preventative measures. I've never had a problem and think I might go with what i know, but I'll check out those websites you mentioned before naking a decision. I really appreciate your advice and hope you have a great time when you get to Laos. I'm yet to speak to someone who hasn't.
#4 crow has been a member since 26/8/2006. Posts: 3
I'm like Marion, in that I've travelled extensively through southeast Asia over the past few decades, and I've never taken anti-malarial meds and never had a problem. However, other folks who post on the message board do take anti-malarials.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) here in the states definitely recommends taking anti-malarial meds for trips anywhere in Laos outside of Vientiane, and in Cambodia outside of Phnom Penh and the Tonle Sap area (although they say there is malaria risk in the Angkor temple complex proper). They have detailed information on their website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel on where in southeast Asia you need to take these meds, which med is best for which area, dosage, useage, who shouldn't take it (pregnant women, young children), etc. This website is definitely worth a look.
Even if you do decide to take anti-malarial meds, it should be just a part of your strategy to protect yourself from diseases carried by insects (which in addition to malaria also includes things like dengue fever and japanese encephalitis. fun,huh?). Use good sense and cover up when needed, particularly at dusk and in the evening, with long-sleeved shirts and long pants, etc. Use a bug spray (the CDC recommends one with DEET up to 50%, but we don't like to use DEET because of the long-term potential toxic effects). Sleep under a mossie net too at night if possible (particularly when you are not in an air-con room).
Even though I personally don't take the anti-malarials, I think it is important to hear both sides of the debate so you can make an informed decision for yourself.
Just as an add-on, the CDC states that there is only limited risk for malaria in Thailand, and that is only in the border areas with Laos, Cambodia and Burma. There are effective mossie sprays containing DEET (and without too) readily available in Thailand and the neighboring countries.
I hope that helps. Have a good trip.
Welcome to Travelfish!
Just to reinforce what both Marian and Exacto have said, and having lived in the region for a decade, having never taken malarials, the best approach is prevention -- dress sensibly, use a mozzzie spray impregnated with DEET and, when appropriate use a mosquito net.
Many travellers choose to take anto-malarials when travelling in Laos, but in many cases there's no reason whatsoever for them to be taking them.
Hope that helps
#6 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,788
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Thanks so much for all your responses. We've been doing lots of research and feel that whatever we do it will be an informed decision. This is my 3rd trip to SE Asia, but 1st time to Laos. I've never taken them and always used preventative measures so I dare say I'll be doing the same this. It's great to hear what others are doing as well.
Thanks for your input
#7 crow has been a member since 26/8/2006. Posts: 3