Saturday, October 9, 2010

Malaria prophylaxis: did you know?

There are three common types of malaria prophylaxis: Mefloquine (a weekly hallucinogenic, see below), doxycycline (daily, also an antibiotic, and with the ironic side effect of increased sun sensitivity) and Malarone (daily, few side effects outside of the hit to your wallet).

Prophylactic pills keep you from getting sick with the symptoms, but malaria is likely still in your blood. After you leave a malaria zone, one type of malaria goes away after each time you have it while the type that lives in your liver should be flushed out with a dose of drugs (which cannot be taken if you have a G6PD deficiency, explaining why Peace Corps requires that obscure test).

The mefloquine (brand name Larium) that I’m on is a weekly pill that is known to cause vivid, sometimes hallucinogenic dreams and/or sleeplessness. I have trouble sleeping the night I take it, but I’ve gotten used to it, dreams of fires and murders aside. Anxiety, depression, psychosis or neurological symptoms such as walking crookedly have been known to develop, in which case you can switch to doxycylcine, a daily pill which has the ironic side effect of increased sun sensitivity. But guess what’s worse than side effects? Malaria.


  1. And that's why we won't be taking Mefloquine when we visit in Jan, thank you just the same. BTW, Dr. Karen says that Malarone can also cause increased sun sensitivity.

  2. Thanks for sharing the post here. Keep up the good work. All the best.


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