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by James Thomas, Saturday, 21 May 2016 | Categories: Malaria Treatments

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization announced the results of a malaria vaccine trial being run in sub-Saharan Africa. The vaccine, known as RTS,S was developed to target the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. This parasite causes the most malaria deaths globally, and is particularly prevalent in Africa.

Unfortunately, though hopes were high for this new vaccine, the results were disappointing. At the end of the trial, less than a third of the infants who received the vaccine developed immunity to severe malaria. It was also found that the fourth dose (administered 18 months after the first three) did not increase the efficacy of the vaccine to any significant degree.

At the end of the trial, the World Health Organization made the decision not to recommend the use of RTS,S. Though certain malaria experts are now calling for a U-turn on this, arguing that the (admittedly slim) benefits cannot be dismissed, it looks as though we’ll be waiting a little longer for a viable malaria vaccine.

In the meantime, it’s a good idea to keep up-to-date on how to protect yourself while in a malaria zone.

Tips for Protecting Yourself Against Malaria

The only way to protect yourself adequately against malaria when you are in high-risk zones is to take malaria tablets.

Malaria zones, and the anti-malarials that they require, change all the time. High-risk areas are located in South America, Africa, India and South East Asia, but you can find out the requirements of your specific destination at the NHS site Fit For Travel

It’s also important to take other precautions besides using anti-malarials. You should wear mosquito repellent that contains DEET, and cover up your arms and legs. If possible, stay in accommodation that has insect screens on the windows, and sleep under a mosquito net that has been impregnated with mosquito repellent. Be aware that mosquitoes tend to be most active during the night and at dawn and dusk, and take extra precautions at these times.

Types of Malaria Tablet

There are several different types of anti-malarial tablet, including Chloroquine, Proguanil, Mefloquine, Atovaquone and Proguanil, and Doxycycline. Some of these are more familiar under their brand names, for example Malarone (Atovaquone and Proguanil) and Lariam (Mefloquine).

If you are taking Chloroquine, Proguanil, Mefloquine, or Doxycycline, you will usually have to start taking your tablets one week before you enter the malaria zone. After you have left the malaria zone, you will have to continue taking the tablets for another four weeks. Lariam is usually taken once a week, Chloroquine twice a week, and Proguanil and Doxycycline every single day. Please note thst The Online Clinic does not recommend Larium to patients because of its side effects profile.

If you are taking Atovaquone and Proguanil, you should start taking your tablets one or two days before entering the malaria zone, and then continue to take the tablets for seven days after you have left. Atovaquone and Proguanil should be taken daily.

Like all medicines, anti-malarials come with some risks and side effects, and these will vary depending upon the type you use. Malaria tablets are also priced differently, with Doxycyline typically being the most affordable and Malarone (Atovaquone and Proguanil) being the most expensive.

Malaria tablets are not typically available for free on the NHS, so you will have to obtain them through a private prescription. One way to do this is to use a private online health service such as The Online Clinic. Click here to view the malaria tablets we offer and to learn more about our services.

Symptoms of Malaria

If you take adequate precautions while travelling, then it is unlikely that you will contract malaria. However, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the symptoms, so that you can seek medical attention if you do fall ill.

Common symptoms of malaria include:

  • Fever 
  • Headach
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Diarrhoea

With certain types of malaria, the fever moves in cycles, switching from bouts of coldness and shivering to a high temperature, sweating and fatigue. If you are in a malaria zone and are suffering from these symptoms, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. The same advice pertains to patients who have returned from a malaria zone in the last 12 months.

The most important thing to remember when travelling to a malaria zone is that education is key. Read up on your destination using reliable sources and get as much advice as you can from travel specialists and doctors. That way, you can enjoy your trip without worrying about your health.

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by Robert MacKay, Saturday, 05 October 2013 | Categories: Malaria Treatments | Travel Clinic

There was a recent announcement from Public Health England regarding the number of malaria deaths in London in the last 4 years. The malaria was not acquired in the UK – so don’t start to worry! The people who died contracted the disease in sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria accounting for more than half of the infections. The problem stems from people not taking malaria medication when they travel to affected areas. Many people who visit these countries are former residents who wrongly believe that they have immunity. Malaria immunity requires persistent exposure to the disease and clearly this will not be happening if you live in London.

If you are travelling overseas then you can check out the UK Government’s Fit for Travel website for information on the malaria risk and the recommended preventative medication. You cannot get malaria medication on the NHS for foreign trips but your NHS GP will write a private prescription for you.

If you have recently returned from a region affected by malaria and you experience headaches and nausea then you should seek medical assistance.

If you are travelling to a part of the world affected by malaria then The Online Clinic can prescribe medication for you for next day delivery.

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by Robert MacKay, Sunday, 25 August 2013 | Categories: Malaria Treatments

According to new guidelines released by the FDA, the malaria treatment, Lariam, is to have a black box warning on it. This is because publicised cases and mounting research has indicated that the drug causes severe neurological and psychiatric side effects.

It has repeatedly been argued that the drugs neuro-toxic effects increase permanent risk for brain injury and that side effects such as depression, anxiety, nightmares, paranoia, delusions and hallucinations can at best only affect the person taking the drugs and at worst have severe consequences for individuals in that person’s surroundings. As an example, it is worth mentioning that the drug has been implicated in assault and murder cases where the hallucinations may have led to the offences.

Currently, the drug is still in use by the US military, but its use is restricted and it is only to be used as a last resort. It is also still available in some travel clinics and appears to be the third most prescribed anti-malaria treatment in the US. One of the reasons for its popularity has been the fact that it only needs to be taken once a week rather than on a daily basis.

Although these side effects are alarming, it is worth pointing out that they are not news for most travellers or clinicians. The Online Clinic has not prescribed this medication for a number of years as we do not believe that the benefits outweigh the risks when there are alternatives available.




A recently published study suggests that treatment with a new vaccine was able to protect mice against several strains of malaria that are related to different malaria parasite species.

The study, which was published in Journal of Clinical Investigation, looked at what would occur if mice were injected with so-called seco-cyclopropyl pyrrolo indole analogues, which are known to block malaria parasite DNA. Their key findings indicated that the vaccine remained in the mice’s system for 110 days and appeared to lead to immunity against various malaria parasite species. In contrast to previous vaccinations, that have generally led to T-cells recognising proteins present in most strains in the parasite, the current findings suggested that this vaccination led to T-cells identifying molecules present in every strain of the parasite. Based on this, the researchers suggested that it would be valuable to conduct human research to see whether a blood-stage parasite-based vaccine would be efficacious in preventing malaria from various parasites.

As the study was conducted in mice, looking at a parasite specific to them (so-called Plasmodium chabaudi), some concerns were raised as to whether these findings would be applicable to humans. However, the researchers stressed that it is likely that research into the human parasite Plasmodium falciparum would have yielded similar results as the parasites Plasmodium chabaudi and Plasmodium falciparum are both affected by treatment with seco-cyclopropyl pyrrolo indole analogues.

Perhaps what makes this study the most interesting is the fact that it has utilised an alternative approach within this field. To our knowledge, only two studies have done that to date. Instead, past research relating to malaria vaccinations has tended to look at the effects of putting antibodies on parasites, surfaces. However, the polymorphic nature of parasites’ surfaces has often made this problematic.

Although it is debatable whether the current findings are sufficient to lead to studies in humans, the alternative approach used by the current study certainly warrants further animal research to replicate the current findings. We doubt that these findings will lead to a fast development of new vaccinations, but there is no denying that they are one step in the right direction.




by Robert MacKay, Wednesday, 05 June 2013 | Categories: Malaria Treatments

Malaria is a disease which kills many people, especially in developing areas of the world. When malaria enters the body it alters the surface proteins on the red blood cells, permitting the bacteria to go undetected by the immune system. These surface proteins have been poor targets for medical intervention as there were so many differences between the various strains of malaria.

Researchers have finally found some common elements between the different strands of malaria. Commonalities have been noticed in these surface proteins that malaria alters. They could potentially be targeted to treat, hopefully, all the different strands and types of the infection.

Scientists have already tested the interaction between the parasites and the antibodies, and are now awaiting pharmaceutical companies to take their research on board. If further trials are successful, this discovery could pave the way for the elusive malaria vaccine.

You can read more about this project being undertaken at the University of Edinburgh.




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