Malaria tablets. To take or not to take, that is the question?
Replies: 13 - Last Post: Jun 14, 2012 10:25 PM Last Post By: craigt3365
Jun 14, 2012 1:41 AM
Malaria tablets. To take or not to take, that is the question?For my upcoming trip to Thailand and Cambodia I have been given vaccinations for Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B. The nurse also suggested that I take Malaria tablets while I am there. She prescribed me 71 Malarone tablets. They are going to cost me just over £200. The nurse told me that I definitely should take them but after researching on the internet I am finding lots of information saying that there are no Malaria issues in Thailand and in Cambodia there are only issues in the south.
What do others think? £200 is a lot of money to spend on tablets that I might not need that also have the possibility of giving some pretty unpleasant side effects.
Would I be safe enough if I sleep with a mosquito net and have strong mosquito repelant with me?
Jun 14, 2012 1:45 AM
Jun 14, 2012 3:26 AM
2I'd contact a travel medicine specialist - they're likely to give you quite different information to your local GP (some GP's are very good, some not so much.). The only person whose advice you should trust on health issues is a doctor so take any advice (including mine!) with a very large grain of salt.
Personally, my doctor says there's no need for anti-malarials in the major tourist areas of Thailand, but suggests taking them for parts of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam - depends where you're going. You could also try the World Health Organisation risk map for information. http://apps.who.int/tools/geoserver/www/ith/index.html
Jun 14, 2012 4:05 AM
Jun 14, 2012 4:19 AM
Jun 14, 2012 7:45 AM
5I don't take malaria pills my self. But i don't think you need to spend that much money on the pills. You could take Doxycycline which is a mild antibiotic that can be used for malaria prevention. Enough for the whole trip will cost around 20usd or so. You can get it Bangkok .
Jun 14, 2012 7:47 AM
OK you should really only take medical advice from a suitably qualified person, however personal experiences are worth listening to in my opinion. Me I would look online for malarial hotspots and if visiting then take medication. Usually I use 100% deet on my hat brim, collar shirt cuffs etc and a weaker percentage deet (50% max) on my skin. I cover up i.e do not expose skin, I use a mozzie net at night and if necessary spray around the room if possible. I very rarely if ever take pills.
Jun 14, 2012 9:58 AM
Jun 14, 2012 10:21 AM
8If you're only traveling in Thailand, don't take them. I took enough for six months in Thailand, unfortunately, and realized I didn't need them after I arrived. Now I have a stash of unused pills. However, Laos is a higher risk area if you plan on going there as well.
Jun 14, 2012 2:46 PM
9Malarone are expensive but have far less chance of side effects for most people than other drugs. Is £200 too much to save your life? (malaria can be fatal). NHS advice generally is that most of Thailand is low-risk malaria (we went last year with kids and didn't take anti-malarials) but border areas and neighbouring countries are higher risk (we didn't go there). If it were me (and I didn't want to believe the die-hard "I never take any meds" types on this forum) I'd work out how long I'd be in actual malarial areas and take only enough tablets for that part of the trip (malarone does not need to be taken for too long before/after, unlike other drugs).
See FitForTravel for more info (click on Cambodia to see how red it is!)
Jun 14, 2012 4:09 PM
10#2 is right on. Ignore anybody who posts like #4.
#6 has some great advice. #8 is right on, except the border areas of Thailand are a problem. Other than that, it's pretty much risk free here. With that being said, your real risk is dengue. It's at epidemic proportions now. A real problem and I know many who have gotten it in the past few years. It's a very painful experience.
#9 is right on. Malarone is the best drug if you have the money. If not, then Doxy is OK, but can have severe side effects on some people. Great link also...excellent info.
In the end, take Brax's advice. Cover up, use deet. And if in Cambo, take your Malarone.
Jun 14, 2012 5:40 PM
11You could always buy them when you arrive in Bangkok, they are much cheaper out here. Personally I don't take them. Took them on my first trip to SE Asia many years ago and didn't like the side effects. Have been back a few times since as well as travelling round South America and visiting the Amazon and didn't take any. Mosquitos tend not to bite me though so I don't worry about it much.
Jun 14, 2012 10:10 PM
12When I first came to Thailand I had all the jabs, malaria tablets and Rabies shots, as advised by my GP, your Doctor will always tell you to take malaria tablets, thats his job.
Look at it this way, do all the people who live in Thailand and Cambodia take malaria tablets every day, expats included, I think not.
Weigh up the pros and cons, do some research and find any specific areas where there have been outbreaks of malaria. Have you got medical insurance ?, are there any side effects caused by taking the tablets ?.
Personally I would not bother, just make sure you keep covered up and use repellent, many good repellents readily available in Thailand.
You will get bitten, probably every day, but the odds on contracting a mosquito borne disease is relatively low, you will probably find your biggest problem is stopping the bites from itching.
Mosquito Borne Diseases in Thailand.
Jun 14, 2012 10:25 PM
13Hmmm...let's see. Thailand had 32,000 confirmed cases of malaria in 2010 (I'd bet the actual number is much higher) and 80 deaths (again, probably under reported).
And of course there's Cambo:
Phnom Penh - Cambodia's leading health official for malaria said Monday the disease killed one-third more people last year than in 2008. Dr Duong Socheat, who heads the national malaria centre, said 279 people died from the mosquito-transmitted disease last year in Cambodia, up from 209.
He said the number infected by the parasite was up 38 per cent from 58,000 to around 80,000.
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