S Africa in August - would you take malaria tablets?

(45 Posts)
loobylolly Mon 20-Apr-09 13:00:04

We are going to S Africa in July (Cape Town & safari in Kruger), 2 kids aged 11 & 5. Malaria tablets are recommended.

However:
- I have had a bad experience with malaria tablets in the past
- apparently they are not 100% effective EVEN if you take the right type for the type of malaria (which seems a bit hit and miss)
- apparently not many mosquitoes around at this time of year anyway
- the tablets cost a fortune (£hundreds)
- one friend has said not to bother with tablets, just cover up and use repellent...

What would you do??

MollieO Mon 20-Apr-09 13:06:47

I thought they recommended that under 6 don't take malaria tablets (and therefore don't go to a malarial area). CT is fine but Kruger is a well known malarial area so malaria tablets are essential imo. Could you go somewhere else for the safari part?

MollieO Mon 20-Apr-09 13:08:51

According to this you might be okay without.

Just asked my DH (he's from SA). His answer was a resounding yes, because of the Kruger element of your holiday. Any time of the year, for Kruger. He says it's not necessary for Cape Town. (And indeed I didn't, when we went.)

BUT he isn't a doctor or anything, so suggests you contact the SA tourist board to check where is a 'malaria area'.

loobylolly Mon 20-Apr-09 13:31:05

Thanks both. Great link too thanks Mollie.

On balance I am leaning towards not bothering. Anyone been through the same thought process? What do people who live out there do?

silverfrog Mon 20-Apr-09 13:37:51

I would definitely take them if going to Kruger - a well known malarial area.

I used to live in Kenya, in Nairobi which is considered non-malarial, but we took anti-malarials when going on safari.

Even when going to non-malarial safari destinations (the MAra is considered mostly non-malarial iirc) we used to take precautions.

I would recommend Malarone as an effective anti malarial (check though, as this is a few years agao now) - it was also then one of the safest anti-malarials around. I believe they have brought out a children's version.

tbh, just covering up and using repellent will not cut it. unless you use a repelent with a high deet content - and I wouldn't want that anywhere near my children.

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 13:45:16

If you're going to Kruger then yes take them - there was another student working in Zimbabwe when I was there who got Malaria and nearly died, after several weeks in hospital in Zimbabwe he was flown back to the UK where he spent months recovering. It wasn't pretty at all.

I'd seek proper advice as to which tablets to take - ones that are recommended in Kenya may not be recommended for SA because the strains are different.

MollieO that article clearly states that Kruger is a malaria risk park - it may be the dry season when the OP goes - but I wouldn't risk it personally.

silverfrog Mon 20-Apr-09 13:48:02

yes, def check re diff strains.

I wasn't very clear before, but malaronewas heralded as the best new thing for malaria regardless (told this by people in the know), but as I said, my info could easily be out of date.

malaria is really not something to take risks with - it is a horrible disease, and one that would be simple to protect against (even if expensive)

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 13:48:27

I lived in Zimbabwe for 2 1/2yrs - didn't take them most of the time - except when travelling out of rural areas - and even then depending on which "urban" area I was I often took them then as well.

Personally, I really wouldn't want to risk anyone getting malaria ...

Best prevention is to spray the rooms, have nets to sleep under and cover up. The supermarkets also sell a plug-in anti-mozzie stuff ...

Ther is also a game park in the Cape, but I suppose the Kruger Park is the real deal ...

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 13:51:24

I disagree with people here. You're gong to Kruger in the SA winter - so I'd say really, it's not necessary. Do take plenty of mosquito repellent etc etc but you should find that mosquitos will be few and far between, limiting the liklihood of malaria.

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 14:06:24

bling - one thing I found while living in Africa was that someone often forgot to tell the little buggers (mozzies) that they're supposed to be few and far between during Winter (dryer months)

And it only takes one bite.

I had become a little complacent with my views on Malaria until this acquaintance of mine nearly died. He had cerebal malaria (more common in children)

crumpet Mon 20-Apr-09 14:10:13

If you are going to a malaria area, then you must take the malaria tablets - you really don't want to risk you or your kids getting it. Contraception is not 100% effective, but you'd be a bit silly not to bother with any if you didn't want to get pregnant.

There are malaria free areas which have game parks (google Pilanesberg), which would avoid the issue though - does it have to he Kruger?

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 14:13:55

FAQ - I guess it's all about your perceptions of risk. With that experience, I can imagine why you're less keen.

In my experience, no one ever actually gets malaria during winter months - as kids we all went up to Kruger in winter holidays, friends and family still do etc etc.

One thing I would say - if you have "flu" after you've been anywhere near an area like that, go to a doctor immediately. I never understand people who don't make the connection. I knew a guy who spent a couple of weeks somewhere highly malaria likely and got sick but didn't go to the doctor. By the time he did, they put him in an ambulance and he died on the way to the hospital!

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 14:16:16

Bling - did you grow up in SA then - I only ask as there is such thing as a natural immunity if you're bitten frequently by the little buggers over a number of years people do develop a natural resistance. Obviously it's lost if you then move away (hence DH taking malaria tablet when we went back to visit 3yrs ago).

AnnasBananas Mon 20-Apr-09 14:16:50

Take the anti-malarials. They are expensive but that's life, it will be an expensive holiday already without them.

Malaria is for life. Our friend who caught malaria a few years ago still has serious relapses.

You could make the decision for yourself not to take then, but IMHO you have to make sure the children take them, that is your parental responsibility.

FAQinglovely Mon 20-Apr-09 14:19:41

btw OP - I'm ery envy of you going to Cape Town - spent amazing Christmas/New Year there just over 11yrs ago <<<<<<sigh>>>>>>>>

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 14:46:03

I did - but in cape town so completely malaria free area so would have taken malaria tablets while visiting Kruger in the summer time. We just didn't bother in the winter.

loobylolly Mon 20-Apr-09 14:49:58

Very interesting thank you. I will look up Malarone and do some more research as to exactly what is recommended for Kruger. (Thanks to those who mentioned safari possibilities elsewhere in SA, however we have absolutely set our hearts on Kruger...)

I'm surprised that only Bling thinks no need to bother and everyone else says take them, was expecting a more even split! There are lots more people out there on the internet also saying it's really not necessary in SA winter, but it's interesting to hear other views of the risk.

Can you buy e.g. Malarone OTC in SA? Traveldoctor suggests starting 2 days before travelling to the endemic area, as we have a week in CT first that would be fine...

(By the way if anyone wants to throw in any recommendations for restaurants or things to do with kids in CT / Hermanus, they would be most welcome!)

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 14:58:37

Ooh - that would be interesting. If you only have to start in Cape Town, go into a pharmacy there and ask advice. That could be an interesting experiment! grin

I have a thread somewhere with my long obsessive helpful suggestions. I'll track it down...

silverfrog Mon 20-Apr-09 15:21:24

don't know about the availability OTC of malarone, but that was why we liked it - no long lead-in periods, or continuing for 6 weeks after etc, just take it when you need it.

MollieO Mon 20-Apr-09 15:31:20

Personally I wouldn't take a 5 yr old on safari. Have you checked that you are actually allowed to take him/her? They get bored pretty easily at that age and may not have the patience to stay still and quiet.

If I were you I'd go to Addo at Port Elizabeth or a game park like Rhino base camp. I did this with my ds when he was 2.5 and it was fine as it was only an afternoon and they allowed children of any age (provided you thought they would be quiet enough).

BlingDreaming Mon 20-Apr-09 15:36:44

try this link for lots of cape town ideas.

The key thing you need to bear in mind is that it will be wet and fairly cold (it never gets super cold) in Cape Town in August. Probably. So things like beach trips etc are out. You can still visit the penguins at Boulders and the like, but you're unlikely to want to picnic there.

At the Waterfront is also the ScratchPatch which I believe is inside these days (used to be outside) and can be hours of endless entertainment for kids as they dig out stones that appeal to them for whatever reason. here

Most restaurants that you just stumble over will be kiddy friendly. Good options include Ocean Basket which is a chain of cheap and cheeful fish places where the food is generally excellent, they're highly accessible, and they have no problems with children around. "smarter" restaurants will be less child friendly so if you want a good meal out in the evening and want to take the kids, ask your hotel/B&B for recommendations. Broadly speaking the Waterfront and most beach places (excluding the highly glamourous Camps Bay) are pretty kid friendly.

Dischem are a large chain of discount pharmacists in SA who should be able to answer your questions about the availability of Malarone ... www.dischem.co.za

Hermanus in the Cape will be great - it is the time when the whales are in the bay .. so very envy ....

MollieO Mon 20-Apr-09 15:50:29

We are off to CT and Plett in October. We've been to Plett before but not CT so very helpful to have child friendly stuff to do!

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