We are traveling in Phrae and Nan (in Thailand) in the period of December-Januar. Is there any risk for malaria. We are travelling with kids (9 months, 6 and 8 year) and want to avoid risky areas. Can we travel safely in that region? Thank you for your reply.
Thanks for your question. Phrae and Nan are two districts in northern Thailand—the latter shares a border with Laos. While most of the very touristy destinations in Thailand (i.e. Bangkok and the coastal regions) are considered to have very low levels of malaria, and perhaps no transmission at all, I’m afraid that the areas bordering Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia do have malaria and so if you visit, you should take appropriate preventative precautions.
It is worth noting that some parts of Thailand are known to have mefloquine (sold as Lariam) and chloroquine resistant strains of malaria, although I have just looked it up and it doesn’t appear that Phrae and Nan are within these regions. However, it would still be worth seeing a physician or visiting a travel clinic to get specific advice for your family, and particularly what anti-malarials are appropriate for your children—a lot of that will depend on personal preference, such as how frequently you are comfortable taking medication and also how much you are prepared to spend.
Some, such as Lariam, are also frequently associated with side effects, which may affect your decision. If you do take anti-malarials on your trip, please take the Malaria Medication Side-effects Survey: Treatment and Prophylaxis. We are trying to collect information from travellers to record people’s experiences with the different types available.
In addition to preventative anti-malaria medication (known as prophylaxis), there are other preventative measures you can take, such as sleeping under a long-lasting insecticide-treated bednet, wearing long-sleeved clothing (especially in the evenings and at night when malarial mosquitoes tend to bite) and using insect-repellent on any exposed skin. You can also spray clothing with permethrin, a chemical which repels insects and prevents them from biting through thin cloth.