So, four days after leaving Sumatra I land in Germany, a day after that and I'm feeling pretty poor, two after that and I'm feeling about as bad as I ever have. Heavy, body wracking chills, high fever (40.3), muscle aches, headache, incredible ability to sweat. Yup, I had Mailaria.
I think I´d always been a little jealous of those other travellers I'd met who'd claimed to have had it, I felt a little inauthentic! I wanted a hardcore story of tropical illness. I wanted that cache! I now have it, but at the cost of one of the worst weeks of my life.
So, my question is; who here has had Malaria (or any other nasty tropical bug)?
(Mr. Ed Vallance, I know you have but please respond as yours is a cracking story)!
hey man, sorry to hear that! What malaria did you have? Falciparum? Vivax? Hope you got to treatment faster than me - I was 10 days before I could get any and it got worse with every attack.
I also hope they treated you with primaquine - it's the stuff that stops malaria recurring. You should take one drug that kills the malaria, and primaquine to kill the stuff that stays in your liver. It can only be combined with certain anti-malarials though. For example the first time I had malaria they treated me with primaquine and mefloquine, which doesn't work. Hence I had my second bout of malaria 6 months later. Luckily whereas my first bout had been "complicated" malaria and nearly killed me, my second bout was not "complicated" and was just like having a VERY nasty fever. Also some hospitals may not know that malaria contracted in south east asia requires a dose of primaquine 1.5 times larger than normal to get rid of it.
Also, this latest trip of yours seems to have been one disaster after the other! It has made extremely good reading though, sorry 😉 Hope it hasn't put you off altogether...
I had the best treatment in a German hospital! Malarone followed by Primaqiune. Feeling better now but was seriously rough for five days. Oh, had Vivax, which is unusual. And, no, I have not been put off travelling in the slightest, even though not everything went quite to plan on that last trip.
With my folks in Spain right now, enjoying my last few days of freedom before the world of work beckons. Can't wait!!
I spent two months in middle of Africa in 2010 and still safe, but most of my friends who are living in Congo have it. It's a little like everybody has it there, and it does come back, but they live with it like if they had a flu...from time to time. Hope I won't have to share your experience, I take my precautions on my side, so should be safe.
That doesn't sound pleasant. I have been looking into anitmalariels recently and wasn't totally decided about taking them or not. Can I ask, Scott, where did you likely catch it? Where you using antimalariels and deet?
Malaria is a deadly disease, and it is present in most of Africa, Asia and Latin America. However, the risk of getting malaria varies greatly, as do the kind of parasite. Resistance to drugs is common. Because it is so complex and so dangerous if you go to a country where there is a risk of getting malaria you should contact a clinic specializing in tropical medicine to get the right profylaxis (if it is needed), and follow exactly the prescription. It is also advisable to use mosquito repellent though it is no guarantee that you wont get malaria, as you only need one bite. But it does offer some protection, and in addition it protects you somewhat against other mosquito transmitted diseases.
The best web site is Centers for Disease Control in USA (CDC), they have a detailed section on travellers health, and you can find out if there is any need for profylaxis.
The risk of getting serious malaria (that is deadly) is greater if you come as a tourist to an area where there is malaria, as people living there develop a kind of immunity over time, although they still get new infections.
This is a very serious matter and you should not rely on information from friends but from health personell who knows the subject.
In my case, I will, of course, be getting professional advice. Just wondering what Scott's situation was.
I took no precautions at all! I had anti-malarials but failed to take them, even though I knew the risks in Sumatra, and particularly in the Banyak Archipelago where I believe I caught it, were high! The effects were seriously unpleasant but, after receiving treatment, they rapidly diminished. My partner, who also failed to ake any malaria pills, failed, thankfull, to catch malaria.
Thats interesting Scott. In hindsight, do you wish you had taken the pills and used the sprays? This is something I have been trying to research for a while now. A few people have told me they didn't use antimalariels and I hate the idea of taking pills I don't really need. I work with about 20 GP's and I have asked their opinion. One of them travles to Africa every 3 months or so, he always goes somewhere rural (usually setting up a clinic or something). Although he does take the pills, he never finishes the course! As I have a phobia of insects I will be using sprays and nets for that purpose as well as to stop them biting. I plan on posing the question to my travel clinic whether it is worth taking the pills or not but I am sure the answer will be yes because they legally won't be allowed to say no, so thats why I am also asking 'real' travellers.
We were in Utila, Honduras last month and the thought never crossed my mind to take antimalaria pills. After I was turned down to donate blood and informs me to watch for a fever and flu like symptoms, my boyfriend sarcastically responds, "well...at least we didn't get bit while we were down there.
We tried every bug repellent and oil we could get our hands on, but I was still covered in welts all over my arms and legs.
About a week and a half ago I came down with a fever of 102.2F and started to freak out because I haven't had a fever since I was a kid. I felt terrible, body aches, migraine, the works, and had to drive 45 minutes to the only place around here that tests for malaria. Fortunately the test came back negative and they told me I most likely had the Swine, but they don't regularly test for it anymore.
I hope to never get it. I don't need malaria to feel like an authentic traveler 😉
I plan on posing the question to my travel clinic whether it is worth taking the pills or not but I am sure the answer will be yes because they legally won't be allowed to say no, so thats why I am also asking 'real' travellers
Reminds us of the argument we had with the travel nurse about Yellow Fever vaccination. Neil ended up arguing with her for about an hour about the chances of contracting yellow fever while we were only in that area for two days and he ended up extrapolating the data and statistics for her so she could understand what we were arguing. Disclaimer here that Neil is medically trained and also has a PhD in Neuroscience and Neuropharmacology so he actually knew more than the nurse we were arguing with.
It's not just that travel clinics legally have to tell you to take them, it's your own choice whether you do but the travel clinics in the UK take too much stock in anti-malarial advice which is sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies who also happen to supply the anti-malarial drugs! We have never taken anti-malarials, we have just been ultra-careful wherever we go. If we were going to go to an area where it really was endemic then we would definitely take them, it's just where we have been so far malaria hasn't been a high risk.
Our friend came to visit us in October and took anti-malarials when they really weren't necessary and they had really weird effects on his appetite, sleeping patterns and he was just feeling weird in general. Most anti-malarials are very strong broad spectrum antibiotics and there are a lot of side effects that need to be considered. For example, doxycycline can cause a heightened sensitivity to the sun, which isn't any fun at all when you are in a hot country as you can burn very easily, it can also cause your nails to fall out and upset stomach. You need to carefully weigh the risks of malaria against the side effects of the pills, as well as actually remembering to actually take the pills at the correct intervals - you need to start them a certain amount of time before you reach a malarial area and keep taking them. The likes of doxy also severely effect the contraceptive pill too.
Really sorry that you got malaria, Scott...we hope we never have to experience that - when we are ill we always keep a close watch on the symptoms!
Thanks! Yeah, as soon as i received treatment the symptoms rapidly diminished. i think the only time that anti-malarials would be an absolute necessity is when travelling in an area with poor access to medical aid. otherwise, quick diagnosis and treatment will usually be enough. An individuals call! I must admit though, that after suffering for eight days, my views have somewhat changed. I may not be quite so lax in the future!
Ahhh... Something I've been thinking about for a while now!
On our last travels we stocked up on anti-malarials (doxy) in Australia, took them for about a week, forgot a few, the packet got forgotten about and we'd wasted all that money on drugs we never used, honestly, If I was female I would be soooo rubbish at taking any kind of oral contraceptive. If it was just us travelling again now, I wouldn't take the drugs... I'm super paranoid about getting bitten anyway (I'm one of those people that bugs just seem to love, Faye remains untouched while I get destroyed), so I'd just smother myself in a good repellent, morning. noon and night.
Now I'm faced with the conundrum of what the hell to do with my kids. They're really just babies so will have to be weighed and the dosages measured out. Do I really want to be dosing up my kids daily with something that might have horrible side effects? Side effects they can't articulate to us, as they have no idea what they are... My youngest can't even talk!
On the other hand, do I want to run the risk of either of them getting Malaria???? Tough choices... I'm going to see what the healthcare professionals advise when we get anywhere that's high risk (like Sumatra, where we do intend on going at some point).
These are very interesting responses. I started a similar thread on Thorn Tree and got flamed beyond belief for even asking (thats one mental forum!). When you take a look at fitfortravel.co.uk it has most of South East Asia as a high risk zone, especially Cambodia. I know many of you have been there Did you not take them there either?
I'm prob not the best person to ask, ask proven! But... I would seriously consider not taking ant-malarials for most of SEA. Unless going deep into the jungle in Cambodia or Myanmar, insect repellent and long sleeves etc. should be more than enough protection. India and Nepal likewise.
Parts of the Philippines and many areas in Indonesia do hold a much higher risk, places such as these, especially if only visiting for a short while, would surely be safer with some Doxy in your system. We, when actually using them, can report no serious side effects from these pills and, as a bonus, they can prevent Delhi belly and various other tropical nasties, such as infections from ticks.
Tina and Rob, how long are you travelling for? Where exactly do you plan to go?
If you click on me, theres a list of where I am going on my profile. Its all the usual places really, nothing too out the way.
Tina, we have been to all of the countries on your list (apart from Mongolia, Russia and Ukraine) and not taken anti-malarials at any point. We found Fit for Travel to be very cautious about risks of disease, we suppose they don't want the cost of treating returning travellers with tropical diseases!
We agree completely with Scott about considering not taking them for the whole of SE Asia, we had been told before we left the only really endemic areas were the Thai-Myanmar border and the Thai-Cambodian border (from Aranya Prathet north), the jungles of Laos and now we can add the Banyak archipelago to that from Scott's experience!
It's definitely a personal decision to make whether you feel comfortable taking the risk or not. Just make the decision based on your research and general traveller consensus - try not to get scared by the travel clinic staff as they do tend to paint the worse case scenario with these things!
Do I really want to be dosing up my kids daily with something that might have horrible side effects?
Neil has some opinions on this - do you want us to e-mail you his thoughts?
Neil has some opinions on this - do you want us to e-mail you his thoughts?
Yes please! Althouh I think it's going to confirm what I think anyway. 😊
I started a similar thread on Thorn Tree and got flamed beyond belief for even asking (thats one mental forum!).
I've only asked one question on that forum about taking my kids on the trans-Mongolian in march and whether I should buy tickets on the go or in advance. I was told I was a fool for even considering taking children on a journey like that, especially when it's cold.
Well, we've just done it, march wasn't that cold at all and there were loads of kids on the train, granted they were all local, but a kid is a kid. Sadly there's a lot of good advice on TT but you need to wade through all the over enthusiastic opinionated idiots to get to it.