Visiting a tropical country is an excellent opportunity to explore a new world and expose yourself to different cultures. However, if you're planning a stay in an area where malaria is present, you'll need to see a travel doctor in order to ensure you don't succumb to the disease. Before your consultation and your trip, there are ways you can work with your medical professional to prevent the onset of malaria.
Create a list of the countries you will visit
There are many antimalarial medications out there, but not all of them work in each country. For example, chloroquine may work in some parts of Far Eastern Asia, but the deadly Falciparum Plasmodium species of Sub-Saharan Africa are resistant to it. If you're planning an extensive trip that spans across multiple countries and continents, create a list and give it to your travel doctor at your appointment. In doing so, you'll help them prescribe the most appropriate antimalarials for your adventure.
Adhere to your medication schedule
Depending on the type of antimalarials you're taking, you may need to start some a week before your trip and continue others for a few weeks afterward. Sticking to the schedule your travel doctor provides is important for several reasons:
- Some medications need to remain in your system after the trip to kill parasites present in your liver
- Certain pills need to build up in your body to achieve the therapeutic dose that prevents parasites multiplying
- Overdosing on certain medications may produce adverse side-effects
If you need to take your antimalarials on a daily basis, you may want to set an alarm as a reminder. Or if you struggle to remember to take them, consider using a weekly pill such as Lariam.
Follow sensible malaria prevention advice
While antimalarials are effective, they're not a guarantee that you'll prevent malaria altogether. Your travel doctor will likely make other recommendations, such as:
- Using Deet to deter mosquito bites
- Staying indoors after dusk and through the evening
- Turning your air conditioning down to create a cool environment that prevents mosquitoes entering your accommodation
- Wearing long, light, and loose clothing if you must stay outdoors in the evening
Following these tips will increase your chances of preventing malaria.
While taking antimalarials and following prevention advice provides you with the best chance of keeping the disease at bay, it doesn't prevent it altogether. Should you notice flu-like symptoms, a fever, or other signs of illness following your return, approach a medical professional for further advice. As this is a disease that's particularly insidious, it's better to catch it swiftly and prevent a fatal onset.