To Malarone or not to Malarone

This week’s trip to Lagos has really taken it out of me.

I’m blessed with a fairly hardy constitution and rarely suffer from anything worse than a bad cold – and that only happens once a year or so. In four and a half years of travelling all over the place, I’ve managed to avoid everything but the odd bad stomach.

So why has Lagos left me feeling rough as anything? Getting from a to b in Lagos involves some tiring bumping around in traffic, hot weather and exposure some germs that my English body’s not too used to, but this week wasn’t different to other African trips I’ve endured with no side-effects whatsoever.

I think the culprit was the anti-malaria tablets I was taking. On my first two trips to Africa I took doxycycline, with no side effects. The problem with doxycycline is that you have to carry on taking them for up to three weeks after returning, which can be inconvenient. For that reason, during my last Africa trip, also to Lagos, I was recommended Malarone. Malarone only needs to be taken one day before you leave, one a night during your visit and for seven days after you return. Much more practical.

I don’t remember suffering from any side-effects during my last dose of Malarone, but this trip seemed to hit me with most of the commonly listed potential problems. Throughout the week I had abdominal pain, zero appetite, bouts of nausea and generally felt rough.

It looks like next time I will have to go back to using doxycycline. What a pain.

Most of the South Africans I work with don’t bother to take any anti-malaria tablets at all, the thinking being that if treated, malaria’s not the end of the world, particularly when the tablets on the market don’t provide 100% protection and often come with nasty side-effects. Lots of they guys actually have malaria and suffer from the odd bout now and again, which they describe as rather like having a bit of flu.

Personally I would prefer to stay protected – I only visit African from time to time, after all. Next time I won’t be using Malarone though. I’m not looking forward to the next few days as I finish the course.

Sun shareholders – see what we all go through for you? 🙂


3 Responses to “To Malarone or not to Malarone”

  1. Riz Says:

    I hope your potential new masters at IBM are reading this as well, and appreciate what you go through for the company!

  2. weeble Says:

    The one anti-malaria tablet I tell everyone to avoid at all costs is Larium… that stuff is really really really bad if, like me, you happen to have a reaction to it (simple Google on the side effects of Larium will explain it all).
    I found one tablet on my last African trip that seemed to do the job, and I only had to take it once every 2 weeks… and zero side effects… and for the list of me I cannot remember the name of the medication. 😦
    That said, I usually just take my chances, following the same line of reasoning as the South Africans you work with (doing simple things like sleeping under a net etc.). I have been to Africa many many many times, spending considerable time there, and never had any problems with Malaria.

  3. Mark Says:

    Oh Chris, Advise when used can be very powerful. Stop masking and inhaling the symptoms of Malaria and just come and visit my friend. On a serious note, I never take medication for Malaria, and after more than probably 60 or 70 trips up north in 8 years I have only ever been treated for Malaria 4 times. Granted on those 4 occasions I felt a bit like you did on your last trip, but on the other 56 occasions I had as much of a blast as North, West and East Africa would allow me to have without getting arrested.

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