To Malarone or not to Malarone
By christophersaul on Mar 20, 2009
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? :)