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longterm malaria medication

Posted by sayadian on 9/6/2009 at 13:54

I just read an article in the newspaper about a guy who didn't take his malaria medication and died of malaria.He was away for 4 months. I thought you could only take these types of medication for short periods.Could he have taken something for as long as 4 months?

#1 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by SBE on 9/6/2009 at 18:55

Malarone is often recommended for travellers by the WHO/CDC etc. How long doctors can actually prescribe it for malaria prevention depends on the drug licensing laws in any particular country. I think it varies between one and three months in Europe, not sure about the US. There are many countries in SE Asia where Malarone is reserved for hospital use only and is not sold to the general public at all.

Four months isn't that long...I spend 6 months in SE Asia every year and don't take anti-malarial drugs to prevent malaria. I haven't met a single expat living in SE Asia who takes them either.

Expats and seasoned travelers will tell you that Dengue fever is what tourists should be mainly worried about here, not malaria. There is no treatment for it. The only way to prevent Dengue is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.

Avoiding getting bitten by mosquitoes also prevents you getting malaria.

People who take anti-malarial medications also catch malaria and die. Drug resistance is a big problem all over the world but it's particularly bad in SE Asia. Anti-malarials can have very unpleasant side effects.

Read user reviews of Malarone here.


However Malarone can be used as emergency treatment if you have no means of getting to a hospital quickly...the adult treatment dose is four pills taken as a single dose at the same time every day for three consecutive days.

The instructions in the box say to take the pills with a milky drink or food... this is because atovaquone is lipo-soluble. Its effectiveness is significantly reduced if lipid levels in the blood aren't high enough.

Unfortunately the makers of Malarone do not seem to have grasped that:

1)milk is often unavailable in countries where malaria is endemic.
2)when you have malaria you completely lose you appetite and the mere thought of greasy food makes you want to throw up

So a better idea is to bring some omega 3 oil capsules or similar with you as well as an emergency box of 12 Malarone pills. Pop a few of those too if you need to self treat.

Finally, be aware that Malarone is only indicated for the prevention and treatment of the most deadly form of malaria (falciparum). It doesn't work very well for other types of malaria like vivax.

#2 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,055

Posted by sayadian on 9/6/2009 at 23:55

I agree with you sbe. I spend a great deal of my time in s.e.asia and have never taken anti-malarial medication. The question I have is whether it is possible to take malaria pills for such a lengthy period without nasty side effects.The messsage You get from the newspaper article and apparently there is a tv documentary (in UK) about this case is that it is irresponsible not to take the medicine. I would have thought long term use was extremely bad for your health.By the way the unfortunate guy caught his malaria in Africa but the principal still stands.Is this documentary going to mislead people and encourage them to take anti-malarials for too long?

#3 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

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