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Choosing a Malaria Medication

I wrapped up my final immunizations this week, knocking out my third Hepatitis B shot, meningitis (for all those dorm-style accommodations), and the flu.

Malaria doesn't exist in Tahiti, New Zealand, or Australia, so I won't need to start popping pills until about January 27, 2009 – two days before I fly to Bali.

I'll then be on them until Europe, which is a long time.

After much research online, I settled on Doxycycline (1x/day).

Its side effects are tied to the digestive system, and sun exposure, which I can manage.

It also happens to be the cheapest option (judging by costs in the USA, and we all know we've got the highest in the world), and most widely available (at least from what I could tell on the BootsnAll forums).

My findings on Lariam (Mefloquine, 1x/week) were startling and quite scary.

Side effects include anxiety (I'm already an anxious guy), nightmares, strange, dreams, depression, and many people believe it has lead loved ones to psychotic episodes and even suicide.

The first article/investigation I read was “The Dark Side of Lariam” on CBS's 60 Minutes website (2003).

I continued to read more and found some scary comments left in the Guestbook of To Lariam or not to Lariam.

Below are a few of the more recent ones:

Thanks for the site … been a year since I have taken Lariam and finally am beginning to feel 100% normal; Can't believe that they prescribe this drug. — Tim 10/20/07

Suffered similar side effects as described here minus the vomiting and diarrhea. Only took three tablets but the severe effects lasted 5 weeks after the last while dizziness, weakness, memory loss, mood swings and delirium seems to have lasted up to 3 months from last tablet. It was very reassuring to read the story and see somebody else had gone through what I'm experiencing. I felt I was going crazy as the side effects are so weird. My advice to anyone, don't take Lariam when there is safe alternatives such as Malarone or Doxycycline. — Andy 10/16/07

If you're planning a trip, do a Google search for “Lariam” before picking a malaria medication.

Malarone (1x/day) is a newer drug. However, it is cost-prohibitive for someone like me planning to be away for an extended period, at least based on US costs.

Chloroquine (1x/week) gave me no side effects when I took it on my past two trips to Central America; however, it has been so widely used, malaria has become resistant to it in much of the world.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Monday 24th of January 2011

I took Lariam on my RTW trip and I was fine. My husband took Malarone, which was super annoying since it's a daily pill. We backpacked around the Southern Hemisphere through several Malaria zones so we ran out of pills early on and ended up fine by taking non-medical precautions like wearing long sleeve shirts and using mosquito nets. I also slathered on the DEET mosquito repellent. I'll probably mutate one day from the side effects ;)


Monday 24th of January 2011

It's good to hear not everyone who takes Lariam has trouble, but I've heard enough stories to continue with my old standby, Doxycycline.

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Friday 29th of October 2010

I was so frustrated beacuse I couldn`t resolve this issue. Then I found your site in google and problem is solved. Thanks!

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Monday 5th of July 2010

Great! Thank for information, I'm looking for it for a long time,


Friday 25th of December 2009

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for checking out Go Backpacking and sharing your experience with malaria medications.


Thursday 24th of December 2009

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for checking out Go Backpacking and sharing your experience with malaria medications.

Comments are closed.