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Staying Healthy on the Road Medical info, e.g. malaria, vaccinations, travel medical tips, medical insurance, where to find a doctor.
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Old 2 Jan 2002
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Malaria, Malarone, fleas and antihistamines... oh my!

I just returned from East Africa and took Malarone the entire time I was there with absolutely no side effects. I was prescribed Malarone by the guys at the Stanford Travel medicine clinic, which has a very good reputation. I would recommend it to anyone who can afford it - I heard rumors that it's availble at very low prices in Africa (but I never got to verify that), and the folks at Stanford claim it's as effective as Lariam. After hearing sdo many stories about Lariam's side effects, I was overjoyed to learn there's a better alternative.

I feel asleep many, many nights without my mosquito net and was bitten from head to toe, but no Malaria.

I did, however, get into a bed full of fleas one night and woke up with bites all over one side of my body. I used some calamine lotion on them (from the local Duka la Dawa) which was totally ineffective. 12 hours later, I was covered with nasty welts several inches in diameter and itched so bad I felt on the verge of insanity. I went to the hospital the next day and found it it was flea bites and that I had an infection similar to Lyme disease, only this variant was easily treatable. I don't know what it was called because I couldn't understand the doctor very well. He prescribed seom antibiotics and some Claritin to stop the itching. The Claritin worked wonders and now I will not travel without it!

Wright Bagwell
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Old 2 Jan 2002
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Not sure if anyone has given this tip before but a friend in the British Army told me to take garlic tablets/capsules to prevent mossie bites.
To test the theory out I have taken them when in the jungles of Thailand and also Zambia. Compared to other trips to the same places (deet was used) I did not get any bites. I also did not smell of garlic which is good to know! (well ok I did once when deciding to chew one to see what it was like.. after a few s of course)
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Old 10 Feb 2002
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Most anti malarials are much cheaper in africa and you don't need a prescription.
In west africa I used weekly larium(meflquine), and carried 2 treatment doses of malarone ( 3-4 pills each)in case. The malarone was $140 in the us, and the meflquine was $10 a pill.
We bought a 6 pack of meflquine in dakar and it was about $3-3.50 per pill. Our friend from kenya says if you buy a whole bottle there it's close to $1 each. You have to know the chemical names, not the brand names-as they don't sell it as larium in africa.( this is important for any medicine- the local pharmacist has never heard of pepto bismal , robitussin or tylenol. But if you know the main ingredients in latin you can find a similar medicine. )
Remember you should start your anti malarial a week before entering the dangerous area, so buy a coupel pills before you get there.
Ed Messenger
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Old 18 Mar 2002
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As for health on the road a thing I have used for years and works for me: Every morning take about a tablespoon of sourdough starter and you can eat and drink anything and have no problems
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Old 19 Mar 2002
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Don't know if this makes any sence but I have the impression that after about 2 weeks in bug-country (no seems, mosqito's,...) I get in some way ressistant to the itchy stuff. They will still 'bite' me and there will be some itching, but not halve as bad as the first days.
Since I noticed this I just hang in there knowing that after about 10 days or so the itching would get a lot better and actually almost dissapear.
But this might just be a very personal experience. As I mentioned, I don't know if this makes any sence to anybode else. Or are there travellers with simular experiences?

Of course this makes no difference to the dangers of malaria and other stuff transmitted by bugs.
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Old 23 Apr 2002
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For what it's worth, my experience with the "mossies", although I have been on the recieving end of Malaria (got it in Papua New Guinea) I still choose not to take a Phropylactic (sp...?). There is a school of thought that doesn't like the idea of drugs (side-effects) playing around with your liver/blood and I tend to go along with that.
I know it doesn't answer any question at all other than giving an opinion.


Macca & Lynda
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Old 27 Jul 2002
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Hi All

I have also heared that Lavender is good at keeping the Mosi's away but not tried it.

I normally react very bad to bites so have to be careful, but had horrendus side effects from Pauladrine (Excuse spelling).

I always travel with Claratyn antihistamine which does not make you drowsy but also carry a few Piriton most wicked if you need to sleep but can't as a temporary measure.

I nearly alway get bitten but on my recent trip to Morocco I did not get bitten once yet a German couple who were with me got eaten alive which was really strange. Perhaps I just smelt too bad!!


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Old 9 Sep 2002
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Or they smelt too good!
Soap, perfume and other nice-smelling stuff is said to attract anything with six or more legs - and especially the biters!
(I tested that by not having a shower for a while (e.g. two days) - Mozzies avoided me, but I couldn't resist thinking the people at the gas-station did the same ;-) )

Anyhow - garlic and onions and anything alike will keep them at distance, when you eat it - not safely, but it'll be better than nothing!

An Orange with dried clove-flowers stuck in or powder on an open cut keeps them away either!

The body get's used to the poison and develops chemicals to keep them away and minimizes the effect of the poison after a while.

All this varies in the countries and with people using stuff, but that's my experience!

If you are in a country where there's tons of bugs (mozzies and sandflies and stuff) but NO deseases best thing is to get bitten a while - after a while you get bitten less and less - after around 1 to 2 weeks of annoying bites I got bitten just as much as people with mozzi-nets or chemical-skin-treatments - not much - huh?
Even nowadays they don't seem to like me that much any more...
...and I'm talking about the usual-summer-bite back home ;-)
Seems to have long term effect on the body-chemical-system!

What helped a lot was R.I.D. - something I bought in Australia (might be available in NZ and UK or Canada) - it's got some chemicals that have disinfectant effects, it helps against bites in the "traditional" chemical way and - most important - will stop the itch for a couple of hours if you leave the place alone for a couple of minutes after using...

Hope this helps a little

CU Mel...

[This message has been edited by onlycookie (edited 09 September 2002).]
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Old 10 Sep 2002
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Do a search for "dettol" on the HUBB and you'll find previous postings from me regarding bug repellant. The best stuff is the cheapest and home-made.



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Old 22 Aug 2003
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"After hearing sdo many stories about Lariam's side effects, I was overjoyed to learn there's a better alternative."

OK so you want to hear my story too? I'm still here to tell the tale, so it's not that bad, but maybe a little long :-)

I can vouch for the effectiveness of Mefloquine (Lariam), but IMHO there's a strange but legitimate balance allowed whereby this effective drug is licensed for general use - because it's side effects *can* be minor compared to the effects of malaria.

Now here's the rub, given controlled clinical conditions the side effects are minor, but in the real world malaria generally occurs in hot places where dehydration can be common and coupled with mefloquine can become a big problem. I have not met anyone that has taken it that has not mentioned some form of side effect, so it does surprise me that the official figure for side effects is something like 1 in 50 users.

My experience and my advice is to happily take mefloquine, it works. However read and remember the instruction to take plenty of water with the tablet. IMO this instruction doesn't go far enough - drink more water than you need all day and stay super hydrated or you will really f**k yourself up like I did.

I had a mefloquine induced mental breakdown on an Air France flight back from Dakar. I was dehydrated. When we took off I fell asleep, then after a while I was woken by someone screaming - it took a few minutes for me to realise that it was myself screaming, I had an overwhelming paranoid terror that I couldn't avoid. I tried to get off the plane at 35,000 ft and had to be restrained and sedated.

Now I said 'overwhelming paranoid terror' but really I can't think of any words appropriatly strong to describe how completly intense and bad my feelings /state of mind was. I basically needed to be put out of my misery and can understand entirely how people could take their own lives if they attain this mental state. I honestly now watch veterinary programs on TV where they put animals down because they are suffering and am astonished that they think the animal needs to die because of a little pain. I know that sounds bad, but it's honestly how I feel now.

I remember describing my feelings as a black cloud of death in my head, which after about 10 hours I was able to escape briefly if I concentrated very hard, but it soon pushed back into my active consciousness. By this time I was incredibly mentally exhausted. My female companion was extremely worried for me.

I slept for 24 hours when I got home, then could only manage 2 hours awake before sleeping again. Within a few weeks the black cloud of death was still in my head but not enveloping my consciousness unless I looked into it, plus I was only sleeping 14 hrs or so a night - so I managed to go back to work, but was in danger of crashing my car as I needed to learn to operate in real time again - I could get very easily distracted and forget that I was driving, once I remember wondering what was causing a bumping noise - I looked out the windscreen and saw the car was driving along the foot-path on the wrong side of the road in a residential area. I had read something on a parked vehicle which had distracted me & terminated any control or perception I had of driving a car. Luckily where the house drives were made the bumping sound which 'woke' me and there was no other obstacles or traffic on the road at the time. For the first few weeks I felt much better each day, then I could notice an improvement every week & after about 3 months I thought I was better. So I got back on my motorbike & rode the 50 miles to work. It was absolutely terrifying, I could only do one thing well at once and only if I concentrated on it. I knew what to do, but could only do one thing at once & could have easily accidentally killed myself in the traffic. Finaly after about 6 months I managed to ride fairly safely, but could still notice a vast improvement in my riding every week.

Now I don't know where to end my tale, I could be better, I don't really know. I can't say if my moods have changed or whether I'm as sane, effective or intelligent as before. I have not noticed any improvements for a while, I guess that's a good sign.
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