Discuss the importance of vaccines, side affects of medications, water-safety worries and health insurance questions. Research malaria meds, cost of medical treatment overseas and other issues related to health on the road.

RTW Travel and Malaria Prevention


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: January 13th, 2012

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  • Added on: February 17th, 2012
I am planning a RTW trip that will (hopefully) last 12-18 months with travel to South America and SE Asia. I was wondering if anyone has any experience with anti-malarial medications. Specifically:

Which medication you would recommend (Doxy, Cipro, Malarone)? Some of these seem to have pretty serious side effects and I'm not sure if it would be worth it.

Would you recommend a mosquito net for further protection? Or alternative protection?

My tentative route would be traveling first through northern SA (Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru,) and then south from there (Argentina, Chile,) and then on to SE Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Nepal, India.) Southern SA does not have an advisory for Malaria. Would it be ok to stop taking any meds while in that region?

Also, my time spent in northern SA will be in the middle of their winter. Does this have any impact?

I am really excited about planning this trip, but the more I read, the more paranoid I become that I will catch some horrible disease. Any advice you guys have would be great. Thanks!


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World Citizen
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Joined: May 27th, 2001
Location: Vancouver, BC.CA

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  • Added on: February 17th, 2012
I took Mefloquine (Lariam) when I visited Thailand immediately after the 2004 tsunami. There was a heightened concern about standing water and mosquitos, so I gave in to the recommendations. While I didn't have the extreme side effects that some have reported, I did find my spirits lifted greatly when I stopped taking it after three weeks. The next six weeks of my trip definitely had a different tone and I was decidedly less moody after going off the Lariam.

That's the only malaria medication experience I've had, but it was enough that I will try to avoid it unless absolutely necessary in the future.

My girlfriend once had a bad reaction to Chloroquine, but says that Malarone was absolutely fine. The obvious downside to Malarone is the cost.

Warning, armchair doctoring ahead....
My understanding is that we take malaria drugs so that we have the treatment in our system already when we become infected. I don't know the details of how well they actually work as a preventative measure, but in a region of only moderate concern I don't use anti-malarials, but I do carry them in case I show some symptom and need to start dosing before I can get to a doctor.

Beyond that, I'd wait to see what other reports turn up from people who've used specific types, and keep in mind that everyone reacts differently.


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Location: North of 60

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  • Added on: February 17th, 2012
We took doxy for just over a month in thailand/vietnam. It has to be taken daily and started before you enter a malaria zone and after you leave. ? two weeks pre and post.... I think I remember? Not sure.

The doctor who prescribed it for me said it would help prevent any food related illness and he used it on a trip to SE Asia but another I spoke with said that it changes the flora in your gut and wouldn't reccomend it because of that and it can make you sensitive to the sun causing horrible sunburn. Then he told a story of a friend who ended up in hospital with an electrolyte imbalance b/c of taking doxy and getting a bad sunburn with blistering...

That did not happen to us at all and after a few days, we didn't really apply the sunscreen very religously.

For the ladies, taking antibiotics that long could lead to a yeast infection, but you can carry a few doses of diflucan.

I don't know if it was the doxy or the dukoral that saved our tummies, but neither of us got even a hint of a gastro bug. We were not careful either, eating in markets and drinking water from those jugs at market stalls...

I think we got lucky though, you'd know your body and how it reacts to medication. Travelling alone I'd not want to take anything that causes nightmares or anxiety/mood changes.
Buen Camino Peregrino!


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Holds PhD in Packing
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  • Added on: February 24th, 2012
I have been on doxy for 9 months at a time without any side affects....


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Armchair Traveler
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Joined: September 7th, 2009
Location: United States

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  • Added on: February 24th, 2012
I'm not a doctor, but....

(Great way to start off a medical info post, haha)

I've travel extensively in South America, Asia, Middle East, etc. Personally, I don't worry about malaria unless I'm in Africa (Plasmodium falciparum). Catch P.F. and you can be dead in 24 hours.

The other strains, you have plenty of time to get treatment. Besides, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don't get bite.
Suzuki DR650


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: February 14th, 2012
Location: Sydney, Australia

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  • Added on: April 25th, 2012
When I went to SA my doctor recommended against the daily doses and instead to seek treatment and take high dose malarone if infected. Lots of travelers I met who were on the daily doses did complain about it. I'd suggest you seek your own medical advice.

Good repellent and a net are essential.

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