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Malaria and pills (13 posts)

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  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 10 months ago ago:

    Here are some comments from the Google Panam group about Malaria prophylaxis, which might be useful for other cycle travellers as well:

    On Sat, Mar 6, 2010 at 3:48 PM, Roland and Belinda Hinmueller
    > Hey everyone,
    > Just curious if anyone is taking anti-malaria tablets and if so when did you
    > start taking them. We have been caring them since Vancouver and are in two
    > minds about it. Don’t want to take them if we can help it. Don’t want to get
    > sick. Cant stand the fact that we have been caring them for ages and not
    > using.
    > Thanks and bunch
    > —
    > Roland and Belinda Hinmueller

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 10 months ago ago:

    2010/3/6 greg mccausland

    Hello -i wondered the same and i talked with some friends (from
    malaria areas) b/c obviously people don’t spend their lives popping
    larium. i was told to get Malarone
    When you feel like you are getting malaria, taking malarone disrupts
    the reproductive cycle of the bacteria – though it sure doesn’t sound
    like any fun. Anyhow, there are different options to research.
    Personally, i am going to go to a local clinic/farmacia and asking
    what’s effective when the time comes to consider it. At least, they
    don’t weigh much! greg

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 10 months ago ago:


    I bought Chloroquine back in france before the trip, it was less than 6 euros for 100 days. Chloroquine works until Panama City. Any further area has resistance to it and you have to switch to Malarone (there are other options but Malarone is the most recommended). Yeah Malarone can be either the regular thing you take on a regular basis, or the emergency treatment greg told about. I’d rather not let the parasite settle in in the first place than fight it once it has already started setting up camp in my liver (I think that’s where it likes to hang out). I’m also, obviously, the mosquitos’ favoutite meal. It has always been like that, and I verified it in Alaska and the Yukon. Being bitten some 8 times more than people around me makes me cautious. Also, if you haven’t noticed, mosquitos bite us a lot more than locals, and they have genetic resistance to the parasite, unlike the gringos!
    I indirectly know a couple of people who got Malaria in Africa, and just hearing the stories about the fevers every year, I don’t wanna take a chance. I’ll be on those crappy drugs till I’m outta there. I’ve been considering for a while, thinking I could avoid being bitten. Now I forget that option, it’s simply impossible. I hate pills, though… (and I think it’s unfair that we can afford the protection while locals just deal with the disease)

    That’s my point of view, I made my mind, your turn!

    btw I’m in Tikal with Byron, we’ll split up tomorrow, I’m going to Belize, he’s headed south to Xeila and some spanish class…

    Happy trails

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 10 months ago ago:

    On Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 3:54 PM, Paul Gareau wrote:
    > Hi all!
    > I just started taking Doxycycline when I got to Belize. I have 120 of
    > them and I’m supposed to take them daily, so I’m covered for a while.
    > It seemed like all the pills had some side effects – with Doxycycline
    > you’re supposed to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. HA! I’ll just
    > try not to run out of sunblock… I think they were also one of the
    > cheaper options.
    > From Dangringa, Belize, and heading toward Tikal, Guatemala, then Lago
    > de Atitlan, then Antigua, then… who knows. :)
    > See you down the road…
    > Paul

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 10 months ago ago:

    Hey – i just bought a mosquito net for my hammock – it is called a pavellon (phonetic) and commonly available in markets. best protection is don’t get bit at night . . . even malarial meds do not prevent malaria all the time (not just an issue of drug resistance). the mosquito net cost me about ten bucks. pyrethrin aerosol is recommended as well and will last a year on nets and tents etc – even thru washing
    – kills ’em. Malaria Site is a good site with all the drug info for countries and regions
    ( ) cheers,greg

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 10 months ago ago:

    hi everyone,
    thanks for your comments about malaria pill popping! we have chloroquine for central america and doxycycline for south america. they were the cheapest options!
    we are two days away from oaxaca city. yes, we are STILL in mexico. it’s been over three months now. we have loved all our detours but are now really ready to get out of here and onto the next country, otherwise we’ll never finish! so much for getting to argentina in july! ha ha! hopefully we’ll catch up to some of you guys at some point!
    take care and keep cool – these 35 degree (plus) days are tough.
    belinda and roland.

    On Mon, Mar 8, 2010 at 4:36 PM, Baptiste Poncet wrote:
    I’m in Belize, camping in a place called Trek Stop just a few km from the Guatemalan border, where you’re headed. I’m staying a few days, planning some repairs and vacation in Belize. Make sure you you stop here, it’s awesome and so friendly! Maybe I’ll see you on your way out!
    See ya

    PS: no side effects with chloroquine so far, main pb being sleeping difficulties, but no pb if taking the pills in the morning….

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 10 months ago ago:

    We are still in Venezuela and have used nothing yet, coming down from Alaska. Generally in Central America people use nothing. I have used all types in the 4 times i was in Tanzania, but the last time (which was 6 weeks long in 2008) I got so depressed from lariam, that I decided to quit, rather have the risk than spending 6 weeks (= 4-6 extra) depressed in one of the most wonderful places on earth.

    i am sure i would feel differently if I got malaria, but after 4 times Tanzania, 1 Uganda, all countries of Central America and Colombia/Venezula, i have not gotten it yet, and I am the strongest mosquito magnet on this side of the planet…
    Not surw what we will do on our way into Guyana and the Amazon.

    Cheers, Harry & Ivana

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 3 months ago ago:


    South of San Francisco and north of LA so starting to think of all things Latin American.

    Number 1 for now is malaria. I got it in S-E Asia years ago, lost half my body weight, was on pills for six months and had to go to the School of Tropical Medicine several times before I was given the all- clear. I won’t be ignoring it as I’ve seen some people have done.

    I’ll be going with Doxycycline (as it’s also an anti-biotic) as it has helped keep me free of illness in Africa a few times – the downside is always what it does to you over the long-term as it’s a daily tablet.
    Surprised to see chloroquine still on the menu as it’s practically useless in many areas of the world. Larium gave me nightmares and hair loss (I’ve got enough of that these days without needing any help from science). Malarone was really expensive when it came out so was just so far beyond the budget – maybe this has changed?

    So, my questions:
    1. Is this stuff available over the counter in Mexico, as it is in Africa and Asia? Or is it better to get it in the States?
    2. Where do the malarial areas start – I’ll do some research on this – but think it is in Southern Mexico?

    And happy cycling

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 3 months ago ago:

    We got chloroquine in Costa Rica (after running out) inexpensively and without a prescription. Malaria starts in southern mainland Mexico (although no one there seemed too concerned about it). The “killer” chloroquine-resistant type starts in Colombia, I believe, but only in areas below 1500 metres. We opted for chloroquine all the way through the Malarial zone and had a limited amount of Malarone as back-up; it will effectively treat chloro-resistant malaria, it’s not just a prophylaxis. Once you have the symptoms, you take a whole bunch (as directed).

    We survived!

    Good luck,

    Torrey and Lucie

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 3 months ago ago:

    Hi there,

    some words from a cycling doctor.

    Malaria starts south of the sonora desert.
    90 percent of malaria cases in Latin America happen in the amazone of Brazil, 5 percent in Peru and Bolivia, the rest in the rest of latin america, mostly on the caribbean side of Belize, Honduras, Nica, Costa Rica and Panama.
    So the risk is low and much lower than eg in Africa or the amazone.
    You can use chloroquin until the city of Panama. From the Darien Gap south you can not use this drug anymore because of resistance.

    After 3 months I got serious side effects from chloroquin (optical nerve inflammation and kidney problems) and was not able to use it again.
    We changed to Doxy from Guatemala onwards, but because of the hot weather our pills started rotting and it took us a while to find out that it was the pills making us vomit every morning…
    would suggest that if you are going to take pills, you do not carry more than 2 months worth and buy `fresh` pills every so often.

    Malarone has not been tested and approved for use longer than 6 weeks at a time. Our travel doctor advised against using it for longer periods than 6 weeks at one time.
    I could not find Malarone in pharmacies in Mexico and Guatemala.
    It is a wise drug to carry on you, as it is also a treatment drug (in a higher dose), and if you are suspecting Malaria, you can start treatment before going to hospital, in case you are off the beaten track.
    Always go to hospital in case you suspect Malaria….!

    We actually stopped using pills altogether after the rotting.

    I`m not sure about your route in South America, but as soon as you leave the Colombian coast you are basically above 2000 meters until you decide to go down again, so you could opt for Malarone just for the few weeks that you are at lower elevations.
    The risk on the pacific south american coast is very very low.

    By the way, we did meet a lot of people in central america with Dengue. That is one nasty decease that will knock you of your seat for a while.

    Use nets, light colored clothing, 30 % deet, to prevent getting bitten. I guess you heard it all before.

    Enjoy cycling!!


  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 3 months ago ago:

    i concur with with anna – use common sense to protect against being bitten (i love my net!) where malaria may be a risk but it is not the same in south america as africa and i ceased taking a prophylaxis in south america decades ago and have had no problems – if i am concerned i ask a local health clinic – but the the risk of long term drug use seems greater than malaria – also in my experience pretty much any drug you want is available over the counter and much cheaper than the usa. not something to stress over and enjoy the hell out of yourselves!
    rubber side down cheers

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 3 months ago ago:

    In Cartagena apparently the prices for Doxycycline differ a lot. One cyclist reported 10 daily tablets 100mg between 19.800 and 6.250, depending on the store and the brand (there seem to be cheaper brands). You might need a prescription.

  • Profile picture of Harry Harry said 9 years, 3 months ago ago:

    From: nancy sathre-vogel
    Sent: zondag 10 oktober 2010 11:18
    Subject: Re: [panam-riders] Malaria Pills recap thread

    Thanks for doing that Harry – that will be a very useful resource. We haven’t used anything either – and haven’t for many, many years of travel around the world. We take basic precautions of trying not to get bit and haven’t had a problem.

    When I was in the Peace Corps in Honduras years ago they made us take malaria medicine. I did it for a year or a little more, but the side effects were so severe after so much time I decided I would rather get kicked out of the Peace Corps than continue taking that poison. They never found out I wasn’t taking them and I never got malaria.

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