If you’re planning a trip to Africa, South/Central America, or Asia, malaria is a legitimate concern. Malaria is a very serious parasitic infection that kills about 1 million people annually and is transmitted by mosquitoes. However, there is good news. There are numerous ways to lower the chances of ever contracting malaria and even if you do, it is highly treatable.
One of the ways to mitigate the risk of contracting malaria is by taking a chemoprophylaxis, or antimalarial drug. Below is a list of some common drugs prescribed for travel to areas of the world with malaria risks:
Lariam (Mefloquine) by Roche
- Weekly tablet
- Cheaper than Malarone (fewer pills to buy)
- While extremely rare, a study reported higher adverse neuropsychiatric events (Dark Side of Lariam)
- Have to start taking it 4-6 weeks prior to departure + 2 weeks after
- Comprehensive Lariam Side Effects
Doxycyclin (general antibiotic)
- Side effects that can be mitigated
- Cheap, Generic
- Daily tablet
- Likely to sunburn faster
- Can lead to yeast infections
Malarone (atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride) by GlaxoSmithKline
- Causal prophylaxis
- Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache can occur
- Can make you sick enough to discontinue use
Chloroquine (Aralen) (can be found generically)
- Resistance in parts of the world (map)
- May worsen psoriasis
When it comes to effectiveness, they are all about equal. However, daily pills put greater responsibility on the user to take it at the same time every day, otherwise the effectiveness decreases. To make a proper choice for your needs, visit your local travel clinic and doctor.
This site also has lots of good info.
Look for part 2 of malaria prevention coming later this week!