We fly to Borneo tomorrow and have been very stupid not thinking about Malaria medication. Can someone quickly tell if I should take medication when there and also what type would be best to take?
Thank you for your help.
Yes! Malaria prophylaxis is recommended for trips to Indonesian Borneo, particularly rural areas. Recommended forms of prophylaxis are Malarone (atovaquone-proguanil), doxycycline and Lariam (mefloquine). The first is the most expensive, but has the fewest side effects, the second is the cheapest but can induce sun sensitivity and needs to be taken for 4 weeks after returning home and the third only requires one pill a week (the others are taken daily) but side effects can be severe and disturbing, including vivid dreams, impaired consciousness and hallucinations.
I am less familiar with south-east Asia, but I know in Africa doxycycline is readily available, for very little money, at local pharmacies. Therefore if you don’t have time to get the necessary anti-malarials before you leave, don’t panic! You may well be able to buy them in-country, particularly if you stop in Jakarta or another major city on your way. Check expiry dates and make sure the drugs are in the original packaging before you purchase though, as counterfeit drugs are distressingly prevalent. Also, do not buy chloroquine (or indeed any anti-malarial not listed above)—malaria in Borneo has been reported to be resistant to chloroquine and so this is not an appropriate anti-malarial for this area.
Please consider sharing your experiences with whichever prophylactic you choose when you return from your trip. We at MALARIA.com are trying to compile data on people’s experiences with malaria prophylactics and treatment medication, and we would be very grateful if you would take our malaria survey. Thank you!
Please also use other preventative measures against malaria while you are in Borneo—sleeping underneath an insecticide-treated bednet and wearing long-sleeved clothing in the evenings and at night, plus applying insect-repellent to exposed skin, can all help to reduce the incidence of mosquito bites and thus the risk of contracting malaria. Plus, avoiding insect bites will probably improve your enjoyment of the trip as a whole!