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Malaria Prevention for Mount Kinabalu Adventure Travelers

A guide for travelers to malaria-risk area and distribution

Mount Kinabalu is situated in the Island of Borneo, South East Asia, which is one of the malaria endemic areas around the world. Other malaria endemic areas are:

So, if you are not from one of the area above, you should take malaria preventive medication when you travel to Mount Kinabalu.

What is malaria?

Malaria is an infectious disease and maybe a deadly illness. Humans get malaria from mosquitoes infected with parasites. You can prevent yourself from getting malaria by:

What are the symptoms of malaria?

  1. Flu-like illness, including shaking chills, headache, muscle ache and tiredness
  2. Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting may also occur
  3. Anemia and jaundice (yellow discoloration of eyes and skin) because of the  loss of red blood cells
  4. If untreated, can leads to mental confusion, seizures, coma, kidney failure and death

Malaria is potentially life threatening, if not immediately treated. The symptoms will occur at least 7 to 9 days after infection; fever in the first week of travel is unlikely to be malaria, although any illness should be promptly evaluated.

Malaria is diagnosed by looking for the parasite in a drop of blood under a microscope.

What are the antimalarial medications?

Antimalarial medications are available by prescription from the doctor. These are the most common medications:
atorvaquone/proguanil, doxycycline, chloroquine and mefloquine

Atorvaquone/proguanil (brand name Malarone (TM))

Adult: one tablet (250mg atorvaquone/100mg proguanil) once a day, starting 1-2 days before travel to the malaria-risk area, daily while at risk, and daily for 7 days after leaving the risk area. Take the dose at the same time each day with food or milk.

Doxycycline (many brand name and generics)

Adult: one tablet 100mg once a day. Take the first dose 1-2 days before travel, daily while in the risk area, and daily for 4 weeks after leaving the risk area. Take the dose at the same time each day.

Mefloquine (brand name Lariam(TM))

Adult: one tablet 250mg once a week. The first dose is taken 1 week before travel, once a week during travel, and once a week for 4 weeks after leaving the malaria-risk area. Take the dose at the same day each week.

Chloroquine (brand name Aralen (TM) and generics)

Adult: one tablet 500mg once a week. The first dose is taken 1 week before travel, once a week during travel, and once a week for 4 weeks after leaving the malaria-risk area. Take the dose at the same day each week.

All the medicines have some side effects. Minor side effects such as nausea, occasional vomiting or diarrhea usually do not require stopping the antimalarial medication. If you cannot tolerate your antimalarial medication, see your health-care provider; other antimalarial medications are available. Seek medical professional help if you travel with children or you are pregnant.

Preventing mosquito bites

Protect yourself from mosquito bites. Mosquito that transmit malaria bite between dusk and dawn. Prevent mosquito bites by staying indoors, if possible. If out-of-doors, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin only; do not use under clothing. Use insect repellent containing DEET for the best protection.

When using repellent with DEET, follow these recommendations:

Take a flying-insect spray or mosquito coils on your trip to help clear rooms of mosquitoes. If you will not be staying in well-screened or air-conditioned rooms, take additional precautions, including sleeping under mosquito netting (bed nets).
References: CDC

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