Hi, I am 3 months pregnant but thinking about going on vacation to Belize in a few weeks time. Should I think about taking something against malaria?
It’s good you asked because getting malaria while pregnant can be much more serious than when not pregnant, and can cause terrible problems to both you and your baby. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult your own health care provider before traveling.
The good news is that while there is malaria in Belize it is not found everywhere and where it is found, it is not resistant to chloroquine, a drug considered safe to use during pregnancy.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Belize City and the islands where tourists mostly visit are largely malaria free, and the risk of getting malaria in these areas is ‘low’. So, if you are heading to Belize City or a resort on one of the islands, you may just want to follow practical advice to avoid mosquito bites: sleep in a screened room and under an insecticide treated bed-net, avoid being outside between dusk and dawn, and if you are, wear long-sleeves and long pants or skirt, and use mosquito repellent (containing DEET, and especially during pregnancy, in my opinion a roll-on repellent if preferable to a spray to avoid inhaling the chemicals).
However, if you are heading off the beaten track, you should take all the mosquito bite precautions mentioned above but also take chloroquine as prophylaxis. Take chloroquine (500 mg tablet containing 300 mg base drug) one time a week starting 1 – 2 weeks before traveling to an area with malaria. Continue taking one pill once a week (on the same day and the same time) while in country and for another 4 weeks after leaving the malaria area.