Monday, April 9, 2007

My final vaccination is complete -- Marlaria.

I haven't posted since I got back from my D.C. trip because I've been frantically trying to write a 30 page internet strategy analysis on Netflix for my marketing class. I was trying to get it finished before our trip to Lake Havasu on Thursday, and I'm happy to say that I got it out the door today.

So anyway, it turns out that when you go to a developing nation like Thailand or Cambodia, you have all sorts of anti-malaria options. When you go somewhere hard core like, oh say east Africa where the mosquitoes carry a strand of malaria that is chloroquine resistant, you only have three choices. And all of them suck.

Doxycycline: An antibiotic that includes such fun side effects as ruining your skin and making you super sensitive to sunlight. You will get sunburned on this drug. You will also lose control of your stomach and get a rash. I won't mention the side effects females get to experience. You get to take this pill every single day during your trip, and every single day for the next four weeks after you get back. Why would people take this then? Because it only costs pennies per day.

Lariam: You don't get any of the physical side effects with this one that you do with the first one, but around 25% of users get to experience bad neuropsychiatric effects such as nightmares, depression, anxiety attacks, and loss of sleep. All of those sound like just what you want to have when you are sleeping out on the Serengeti. The good news is that this pill only needs to be taken once per week during your trip, for two weeks before your trip, and four weeks after. The cost is $10 per pill.

Malarone: The most friendly of the hard core malaria vaccines, this one won't give you any of the mental or physical side effects that the others will. The down side? Well it has only been around for two years so knowledge about its success rate and side effects are limited. Oh, and there is the fact that you have to take it every day during your trip, one day before, and seven days after...at a cost of $10 per pill. Total cost for the both of us: $800.

In the end, I decided to go with the Lariam. It is cheaper, needs to be taken less frequently, doesn't really have any physical side effects, and the odds are decent that it won't have mental side effects. My logic here is essentially that we will be taking this drug for two full weeks before we leave, which is enough time to assess whether we will experience unwanted neuropsychiatric effects. If this happens, then we can switch to the Malarone before we go.

Bonus round trivia question -- our one month supply of Malarone will cost us $800. Can anyone guess what Tanzania's per capita GDP is? If you guessed "not enough to protect anyone from malaria for even a few months" you are correct.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Vic said...

Thank you so much. I've looked nearly everywhere for the side effects to these drugs. I'm ging a Health and Social care course at college and needed the info. Thank you this has been very useful!