Advice for India travel? (Health protection)
October 8, 2006 5:52 PM   Subscribe

I am traveling to Kolkata for a week around Christmas. I am researching shots/meds requirements and am coming up against recommendations for malaria protection. I'm reluctant to use doxycycline or Lariam. I'm looking for personal experience info about the different options. Other travel advice, tips, or recommendations are also welcome!
posted by caitlinb to Travel & Transportation around Kolkata, India (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Per the CDC website, you have three options for south Asia: Lariam, Doxycycline, and Malarone.

The first time I traveled to Southeast Asia, I took Lariam, and didn't much care for it. I didn't have a psychotic episode or anything, but it gave me funky dreams that got progressively more disturbing the longer I was on it, and it really started to interfere with my sleep patterns, so that the last week I was on it I was in an exhausted fog. On that same trip, my husband took Lariam and got malaria anyway. (We got back to find out that the CDC updated their travel info while we were gone to say that there is some resistance to Lariam where we went.) So I don't blame you for your reluctance.

This past summer I took malarone (atovaquone/proguanil). You have to take it every day, as opposed to once a week for Lariam, but you don't have to keep taking it for as long once you leave the malaria zone. I didn't have any side effects, and I would certainly choose to take malarone for my next trip, if that is an option.

Getting malaria sucks. Truly. Don't risk it, take a prophylactic.
posted by ambrosia at 6:29 PM on October 8, 2006

I as in India for a month this past summer and took Malarone. I would recommend it over both Lariam and Doxycycline. Lariam has the oft mentioned delusional/nightmarish side effects and Doxycycline, as it is an antibiotic, can trigger yeast infections in females. If you're primarily concerned about cost, however, Doxycycline (+ a medication for yeast infection) is your best bet as it's something like pennies per pill while Malarone is several dollars per pill. I had no real trouble with Malarone and think you should be fine with that if you choose it.
posted by superfem at 7:05 PM on October 8, 2006

Haven't been there, but I've taken Larium on multiple trips elsewhere. If there's Larium resistence there, definitely pay attention. For myself, I can say that I had some pretty good dreams on it, but none of the really negative experiences some have reported. If there's no resistence and you know you tolerate it well. Larium seems a good choice, and doxy seems extreme. I hope you'll get some other good comments to guide you. Oh, and I think with Larium you tend to get your side effects soonish, so if you're pre-dosing you may know whether it freaks you out before you leave.
posted by Mngo at 7:27 PM on October 8, 2006

I have taken doxycycline for two summer-long trips (3 months or so) and haven't had many problems. Reactions to meds can differ quite drastically from person to person so my experience with doxy will not necessarily apply to you. I would add, however, that if you do choose doxy follow the instructions about taking the meds with food and lots of water as I omitted this a couple of times and got moderate stomach pain.
posted by madokachan at 7:36 PM on October 8, 2006

I took doxy when I was in India (Calcutta and elsewhere), and had no problems, not even problems with sunburn or stomach pain as the warnings had suggested. Friends (anthropologists) working in India, East Africa, and Central America have all reported problems (psychotic dreams) with Lariam.
posted by The Michael The at 7:45 PM on October 8, 2006

I had good luck with Malarone when I traveled to India in the spring.

On the G.I. front, I did come down with a nasty case of diarrhea one day, but I never had to take the Cipro I took with me as a precaution. I found it was best to avoid all anti-diarrheals like Immodium, swig a few bottles of water with rehydration salts, and wait it out.
posted by jacob at 8:37 PM on October 8, 2006

I just got done using Malarone for a month in Africa. It had no noticable side effects for me.
posted by tkolar at 11:40 PM on October 8, 2006

I've got a prescription for Lariam for a trip to Bombay this December. I chose (and the doctor reccomended) it to me over Doxy because I'm prone to sunburns, and Lariam is a once-a-week dose rather than once-a-day. It's a little more expensive, but worth it in my opinion.
posted by nitsuj at 6:35 AM on October 9, 2006

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