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Childhood-diseases

Question
Posted by: Des | 2004/10/28

Q.

Travelling to Malaria area

Doctor,

We are planning a visit to the Kruger National Park at the end of May 2005. Our Son will be 17 Months old. Is it safe to take him to the Park at this time of year, is this a high risk malaria time in the Park? Can I give him anti malarial medication to prevent malaria? If yes, what is the best option for him. He is not a big child and at present he weighs just under 8 kg. Please could you give me some advise or refer me to someone who could answer these questions.

Thanks very much.
Desiree

Expert's Reply

A.

Paediatrician

Malaria prophylaxis is always problematic in young children. The usual advice would be not to take children under 2yrs or 10-12kg into a malaria area. Take all the necessary precautions to prevent a masquito bite; a mosquito net at night; repellent, long sleeved clothes etc. after dusk and preferrably go in winter time. Mefloquin is usually advised in children >10-12kg, but it may be quite a struggle to get them to drink it.

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2
user comments

C.

Posted by: Purple | 2004/11/02

Many people who actually live in malaria areas have children there without them getting malaria (and no, they don't have a natural immunity).

Ask your paed for a prescription for Larium (babies over 3 months can take it). Give it exactly as directed (as you should with all medicine).

When in the area, ensure that your child wears long sleeves and long pants in the early evening, which is the time that mosquito's are about. Cover her in tabbard/peaceful sleep from about 4pm onwards.

At the Kruger Park, all accommodation has mosquito netting, which is extremely effective. Also, why not phone the park and check whether the camps you are going to have the vegetation sprayed. There is a product which starts with an F that is usually sprayed on any stagnant water and any vegetation which could have pools of water in it anywhere near windows etc. It kills mosquito's but is completely harmless to humans, apparently you could lick the walls without it affecting you (though why you might wish to lick the wall I don't know).

Remember that malaria is caused by the Anopholes mosquito, which is a carrier. You can't get malaria just because you have been bitten, the mosquito must have bitten someone with malaria prior to biting you in order to pass the disease on. You could phone the park doctor (probably based at Skukuza) and ask if there have been any cases of Malaria this year.

Also remember that summer is a malaria season, but winter isn't.

If you wish to do a malaria test on your daughter after visiting the park, just to test and make sure, then get a local doctor (Nelspruit or somewhere close by) to do it and use their local pathology lab. I believe, though I stand to correction, that malaria can be quite difficult to spot in the blood unless you are used to seeing it. (doesn't really make sense to me, so don't knkow how true it is).

Reply to Purple
Posted by: dr anonymous | 2004/10/31

Infants and children under 5yrs are not recommended to travel at malaria risk areas.
Kruger Park is one of the malaria endemic areas.
Whether the risk is still high in May (Autumn), you will have to contact Kruger Park admin. or a travel clinic for verification.

However if one must take a child, there are specific meds that can be used as prophylaxes but is given through a travel clinic preferably through your paediatrician. If your paed feels you rather not go, then thats that.

Reply to dr anonymous

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