Travel Prep for Africa — Mefloquine for Malaria If You Please

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One of the aspects of traveling that is rarely discussed is if you are healthy enough to endure the rigors of 6+ hour flights, hours of walking, eating local, drinking tap water and any unforeseen circumstances. That’s why I saw my doctor to see if I need shots and meds.

When I went to China, I looked on the Centers for Disease Control website about straying away from the major cities, which I planned to do. Yellow fever was a slight risk, but not enough to get shots. For South Africa, the CDC states this:

All travelers  You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Some vaccines may also be required for travel.

Most travelers  Get travel vaccines and medicines because there is a risk of these diseases in the country you are visiting. Hepatitis A  — CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in South Africa, regardless of where you are eating or staying.   

Some travelers  Ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the US. Malaria — When traveling in South Africa, you should avoid mosquito bites to prevent malaria. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, depending on your travel plans, such as where you are going, when you are traveling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside. Talk to your doctor about how you can prevent malaria while traveling. 

I visited my doctor who sent me for blood work to see if I should even bother to get Hep A shots because I could immune already. Sorry, anti-vaxers, but if the tests show that I need them, I’m getting them.

Then for my malaria, while the national parks boast of being “malaria-free,” I’m not going to take my chances. My doctor said, “the pills are expensive.” I responded, “Are we talking $1,000 expensive or $100 expensive.” I visited the day the story broke about that hedge fund guy who’s now the scorn on social media, Martin Shkreli. He marked up Daraprim after buying the company from $13.50 per tablet to $750.

Knowing my luck, some douche bought up Mefloquine futures and jacked the price up. As it turns out, it’s only $10 a pill and you only need five, six or seven depending on your length of stay.

It’s a small price to pay to prevent a major-infectious disease that if contracted, would put in me in quarantine by NJ governor Chris Christine and thrown in a cage like the Elephant Man.

End result, be healthy for travel. Build up your immune system, exercise and get plenty of rest the weeks before you head off.

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