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). It's 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 (Mefloquin, 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' 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 a long period of time, at least based on US costs.
Chloroquin (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, the malaria has become resistant to it in much of the world.
Do you have a preference for malaria medication?