If you're going on an African safari, chances are good that you'll be in an area where malaria tablets are going to be necessary.
There are a number of them available on the market but it's very important that you seek your GP's advice in good time before deciding on one for your trip.
The reason is that the tablets effect everyone differently and your medical history may play a role in your choice.
Make sure that you follow the dosages and schedules exactly because if you don't you could experience side effects and decrease the effectiveness of the malaria tablets which makes you more susceptible to catching it.
The information here is meant to inform you of the options available and not to serve as medical advice.
This is a combination of two drugs (atovaquone and proguanil HCI) and only needs to be taken 2 days before travel to a malaria risk area.
The adult dosage is 1 tablet per day taken with food or milk and needs to be continued for 7 days after leaving a malaria area. Believed to be about 98% effective.
It is a prescription medication.
The side effects are few - even for children - and rare but some people develop abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and headache.
This tablet is also used as an antibiotic under various brand names. The first dose needs to be taken 2 days before arrival in the risk area.
The adult dosage is 100mg (1 tablet) per day taken with a full glass of water and needs to be continued for four weeks after leaving the malaria area. Over 90% effective. Not recommended for children under the age of 8.
The most common reported side effect is increased sun sensitivity so make sure you take all precautions to avoid sunburn. Mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble swallowing, or vaginal yeast infection are some other possible side effects.
The adult dose for this tablet is one tablet, once per week and the first dose needs to be taken one week before arrival in the malaria area and then once a week on the same day while in the malaria area. Continue for four weeks after leaving the malaria area. Over 90% effective.
Should be taken on a full stomach after a meal and side effects include headache, nausea, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, paranoia, vivid dreams and visual disturbances.
If you're worried about the side effects, it's a good idea to start taking the tablets more than a week prior to your safari to see if/how it will affect you.
Don't take Lariam® if you are planning to scuba dive during the time you are on malaria tablets.
You also shouldn't scuba dive for 3 weeks after you've stopped taking the tablets.
The side effects of Lariam® (mefloquine) can be dangerous for divers. Also, since the symptoms of DCI (decompression illness) is very similar, it can lead to mis-diagnosis.
Paludrine® (proguanil) and Chloroquine:
These two drugs should be taken in conjunction with each other but in Africa the malarial mosquito has built up a resistance to these tablets so they are now less than 60% effective in most parts of the continent. Not recommended for your safari.
Money saving tip: Ask your doctor or pharmacist for generic malaria tablets.
Anti malaria tablets reduce your risk of infection with approximately 80% to 98% depending on your destination and general health but no anti-malarial drug regime provides 100% protection even if used strictly according to the guidelines.
So prevention of mosquito bites is very important even if you are taking malaria tablets regularly.
Here are some effective preventative measures...
Covering up any exposed skin is the watchword here. Wear long trousers and long sleeve shirts with socks to cover your ankles at dusk, during the night and also early mornings. Make it as difficult as possible for the mosquitoes to bite you.
If you are not staying in an air conditioned or well screened room then sleeping under a mosquito net that covers your bed is a very good idea. Make sure the net has been sprayed with the insecticide permethrin which both repels and kills mosquitoes.
It's also a good idea to clear your room of any mosquitoes that might be there before you go to sleep. You can use mosquito coils and/or a flying insect spray.
The best repellent protection is provided by products that contain DEET. You need to re-apply after a certain time period (check the product specifications) for it to remain effective. Higher concentrations of DEET may last longer but anything over 50% provides no added protection.
Knowledge on how to prevent malaria is not going to help you much unless you actually visit Africa so to help you choose the best guide I've compiled the list below.
It ranks the Top Three Safari operators in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda and for climbing Kilimanjaro as decided by the trip reports of previous safari travellers.
To have the Top Three Safari Operators List and the other information above e-mailed to you in four instalments over four days, please complete the form below...
African Safari Journals and Top Safari Guides Founder
'Better Safari Photography', 'Safari Journal Diary' and 'Guide Your Own Safari' eBooks Author