Which Malaria Tablets For South Africa?

South Africa is an amazing vibrant country with breathtaking landscape, fascinating history, ancient artefacts, bustling cities and dangerous animals.  Lions, tigers, cheetahs and rhinos require us to keep a safe distance in order to observe them.  However, the Malaria transmitting mosquito can attack us without warning and infect us with a potentially fatal disease.  

Malaria is present in over 100 different countries around the world.  Tropical regions such as; Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Middle East and some Pacific islands are affected by the disease.  Where Malaria is concerned prevention is better than cure so visitors to countries like South Africa need to take medication before, during and after travelling

Malaria Symptoms

Malaria is caused by one of five Plasmodium Parasites that can infect humans. Infection only occurs following a bite from an infected mosquito or blood transfusion.  The infection travels to the liver and symptoms show themselves after a 7 -18 day incubation period.  Here are the most common symptoms:-

  • Fever.
  • Headache.
  • Sweats.
  • Chills.
  • Vomiting.
  • Muscle Pains.
  • Feeling generally unwell.

More serious symptoms include; coma, jaundice, liver failure, shock, fluid on the lungs, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), hypoglycemia, kidney failure, swelling of the spleen and dehydration.  If caught during pregnancy the lives of the mother and unborn child can be in serious danger.  (Source: NHS Choices).

Treatments

Doxycycline, Atovaquone/Proguanil and Malarone are all treatments for Malaria.  They are only effective if taken in advance, during and following your trip.  Atovaquone/Proguanil is the generic form of Malarone.  Doxycycline is a different compound to Malarone and has different side effects.  Antimalarial drugs work by killing off the Plasmodium parasite.  If measures are made to prevent mosquito bites the risk of catching malaria is greatly reduced.  

Doxycycline:

  • One or two doses should be taken before travelling.
  • Continue taking one dose a day while away and for 4 weeks after returning.
  • Not suitable for; pregnant women, children under 12, people with liver problems or an antibiotic allergy.
  • Side effects include; stomach upset, heartburn, thrush and sunburn.
  • This treatment is quite cheap. If you are already taking it for acne treatment consult your doctor to ensure you take the correct dose for travelling.

Malarone:

  • Take two days before travelling, during your stay and up to seven days afterwards.
  • Not suitable for; pregnant women, people with kidney problems, acid reflux (antacids prevent the Proguanil from being absorbed by the gut) and children under a certain weight.
  • Side effects include; headaches, upset stomach, skin rash and mouth ulcers.
  • This medication is better for short trips as it is more expensive than other treatments.

Some people have reported that anti-malarial medication can cause anxiety and psychosis.  This is extremely rare but if you have any concerns relating to this issue, please don’t hesitate to discuss it with your doctor.

Malaria symptoms can sometimes take weeks and months to show themselves.  If you display any Malaria symptoms months after your holiday please contact your doctor immediately.  To review and purchase treatment for Malaria click here.