You should always speak to your doctor about Malaria prophylaxis and prevention before travelling to a malaria area such as Victoria Falls or the Kruger National Park in South Africa. We are not doctors and the below information is intended as a guideline only - it is not intended to replace that issued by your doctor. Thousands of travellers visit Africa every year and so this should not deter you from travelling to the Victoria Falls. The Victoria Falls lies within what is commonly described as a low risk malaria area, however we err on the side of caution and still recommend you take prophylaxis.
Prevention and Treatment of Malaria
Rule One : Avoid Getting Bitten
Rule number one of Malaria prevention is that if you don’t get bitten you won’t get malaria. Unfortunately the female Anopheles Mosquito that transmits malaria is a silent little mozzie and doesn’t buzz to warn you of its presence. Mosquitoes can bite at any time of day, but are usually their most active at dawn and dusk. Use the repellent sprays and wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers in the mornings and evenings. The mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing and it is therefore important to spray Insect Repellant on covered skin as well as non covered skin.
Most of the lodges have screened windows and doors, mosquito nets, air conditioning, fans and plug in deterrents. These all help to prevent you getting bitten, but should not be the used on their own.
Rule Two : Take Anti Malaria Tablets if you are in a Malaria Area
It should be noted that no Malaria Prophylactic is 100% effective as the Malaria parasites become resistant to the various drugs. It is therefore vital that you speak to your doctor or travel clinic to advise you on the best prophylactic for you. Travellers should remember to take the tablets regularly and continue to take the prescribed dosage of tablets even after they have left the Malaria Area.
Chloroquine, Proguanil and Maloprim: Malaria in certain parts of Africa (north of South Africa) have become Chloroquine resistant and therefore these drugs are decreasing in their popularity and fewer people are taking them.
Mefloquine (Larium): For many years Larium has taken a bit of beating. It is a very effective Malaria Prophylactic but it needs to be carefully dispensed as patients with a history of psychiatric disturbances can get unpleasant side effects.
Malarone: This prophylactic has virtually no side effects and with a simple daily dose it is becoming increasingly more popular choice for travellers. In addition, Malarone has now been launched in the UK in a children's formulation and is the first ever malaria tablet designed just for kids. It is also licensed in the USA, Denmark and is becoming increasingly available in Europe. The children’s version is a chewable once daily dosage that only needs to be started one day before travel commences.
This is the Prophylactic that we recommend – but would urge you check your personal suitability with your doctor prior to travel.
Doxycycline: This is an antibiotic and for many people it provides a perfectly good alternative to taking the traditional anti malaria tablets. However, Doxycycline can make you particularly sensitive to sun, and the effects of antibiotics on contraception tablets are well documented. Be warned … travellers may return from their holiday with more than a sun tan!
Garlic, Vitamin B, Chilli : These are all old wives tails and should definitely not be used as prevention against Malaria!
Rule 3: Look out for symptoms and complete your course of prophylactics!
If on your return or during the remainder of your trip, you experience any flu like symptoms (nausea & vomiting, chills, fever, sweating, headache or muscle pain) you should have a malaria test just to be safe. Malaria responds well to early treatment. Remember to complete your prophylactic course - even after leaving a malaria area.
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