Got Malaria on Anti-Malaria Drugs

pondering malaria do I look sick?

Greetings,

So yeah, the results came in and I was positive for malaria. My score was a 5.5 bacteria count, whatever that means. I was given coartem to treat the malaria. So you know, I got malaria here in Africa while taking doxycycline, a popular anti-malaria drug, what a joke. If you haven’t read yesterday’s update, suggest you do so now. Kinda makes you ponder things, yes?

Photo above was taken after the results came in, do I look sick to you?

Update: Spoke way too soonMalaria Symptoms & Treatment – Day 2

I had no symptoms except an exceptionally sore throat and stomach cramps. Neither are promoted as the “common signs of malaria”. Had that German lady we’ll call “Larissa” never mentioned it to me on Facebook, never would have went. On that note, according to locals and people who live here, only people who die are foreigners who don’ recognize it or think they can’t have it as they are on the pills. If caught early it’s no big deal. Most who die are the insanely poor in rural areas who lack access and/or funds to treatment. Of those who die, it is predominantly young children.

Kinda choked I took an antibiotic and polluted my system for 90 days for NOTHING. It also cost me $130, I could of bought a small house and plot of land outside Pangani(for real). The Doctor in Thailand said don’t bother and the Doctor’s here said the same. The argument is cerebral really sucks which is more common in the west of Africa then here. Cerebral is bad but both are if untreated. A friend got cerebral, lost half his eye sight amongst other things… That said, he didn’t get it treated fast enough and was on the pills, hmmm do I see a pattern?

I asked why local people don’t get sick more often / die. He said that he sees lots of European / North American aka “Rich World” people come here. We have the immune system comparable to an African child. Also noted that adults around here have the immune system of a horse. We’re so sheltered back home that we never build natural immunity / resistance to ANYTHING except antibiotics… OH THE IRONY! Also pharmaceutical companies are a large part of the “Developed World”. Call my a cynic but I don’t overly believe in coincidence, dependence translates into dollars.

How many people do you know that are on daily medications for something?

The only people who said I need to take anti-malaria are the travel clinics back home. Granted, talk to someone who caught cerebral and I’m sure they’d tell you a different story. I’d say that anti-malaria pills are like an umbrella in a hurricane. You’re still going to get soaked, just not everyone gets a rogue piece of flying debris dead smack in the dentures, so to speak.

Honestly, as my Scottish friend (who got malaria with his wife while on doxy) says “I’ve had hang overs worse”. He never would have gone except his wife had a bad stomach for 5 days and a local lady said to get tested, they were both shocked when they got it. Besides being slightly chilled and a bit fatigued, I feel fine. To be honest, I often feel fatigued as I often stay out late, travel long hours and burn the candle at both ends so to speak.

I’m in my “Home in Africa” aka my friends. The housekeeper who was equally as glad as I to hang out again is making me broccoli and spinach soup with a watermelon avocado shake, slight speed bump on the commute to wherever it is that I’m going…

Have you had malaria? I’d say Swine Flu was worse. (So far)

Tips hat,

46 Comments

  1. Adventurous Kate

    March 21, 2011 at 2:36 am

    Jesus. Get well, dude.

    My mates took antimalarials religiously in Vietnam and Cambodia. Never touched them. Mostly out of laziness, I think. I did think I had it in Hanoi, but it was just a nasty case of strep.

    Feel better. :-)

  2. Rob

    March 21, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Thanks Kate, I never touched them in SE Asia and never got it either. Yeah, have that “I think I have strep” feeling now, not so cool. Enjoy Ubud!

  3. Christine

    March 21, 2011 at 3:27 am

    Yikes, what a story. Hope you’re feeling better soon!

  4. Rob

    March 21, 2011 at 3:32 am

    Thanks Christine, maybe I should have come to Spain a month ago, no malaria there, one believes. Gracias.

  5. Wendy

    March 21, 2011 at 5:34 am

    Speedy recovery to you!

    • Rob

      March 21, 2011 at 11:09 am

      Thanks Wendy!

  6. Adam Daigle

    March 21, 2011 at 5:59 am

    Unlike. Well, it looks like your fears came true. What the hell, right? It freaks me out, man. Your symptoms seem so subtle, too. It makes me think that I could have it. Great, now I’m going to have to get checked. Peace.

    • Rob

      March 21, 2011 at 11:06 am

      They were, when in doubt get checked. Starting get cold sweats so maybe just caught early?, safe travels bro

  7. Ryan | PauseTheMoment.com

    March 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Sorry to hear man. Hope you get well soon. Glad to hear that you were proactive about getting checked out.

    • Rob

      March 21, 2011 at 11:07 am

      Such is life man, we should be in Spain banking coin!

  8. Mica

    March 21, 2011 at 10:58 am

    That is so crazy. I am sorry to hear that you’ve got it, but now you know you do you can get better. I am also of the lazy kind and never bothered to take meds, even when I was in the peruvian jungle. Leaving to SE Asia in the fall and I’m convinced I still won’t be taking any beforehand.

    • Rob

      March 21, 2011 at 11:09 am

      If in jungles, bring own test and cure perhaps. Never took in SE Asia, Africa is a different ball game though. Just thankful not cerebral. My aunt and a friend got it. Safe travels!

  9. KiDQUiCK

    March 21, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Sorry to hear it man. But how did they test for it? False positives are common. Also malaria is a parasite, not a bacteria, so a result of 5.5 seems rather fishy. Sometimes the prevention/cure is worse than the disease…

    • Rob

      March 21, 2011 at 11:48 pm

      As usual, valid points. Started feeling worse once the pills were taken. Guess it’s my system going bonkers or something of that nature?

      Blood sample test.

  10. AudreyDez

    March 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    As I said, sorry and feel better:)

    we do have the worst immune system, hopefully having malaria now will make yours stronger ;)

    • Rob

      March 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm

      Let’s hope so, opens your eyes though.

  11. Dr Fly

    March 21, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Feel better.

    Leave Africa for the splendor of Puma Punku.

    • Rob

      March 21, 2011 at 11:50 pm

      Leaving Africa in next two weeks, will be in Puma Punku next year. Perhaps I will rent a pad near it and channel the past to bring me to an even more promising future.

      Thanks.

  12. Julie

    March 22, 2011 at 12:29 am

    I contracted cerebral malaria when I was in the (then) Republic of Zaire and I had taken all my tablets as prescribed. I was hallucinating, talking to imaginary people, losing track of time — days felt like minutes — and almost died. If it hadn’t have been for the free Air Zaire clinic, I would have.

    The malaria recurred now and then for 6 years, and I would be laid low with it for a week or do each time, until I took Artemsisia annua (qinghaosu or sweet wormwood) as a remedy for something else entirely. I experienced had a massive herxheimer reaction and was very, very illl for 3 days, but since that reaction there has been no recurrence of the malaria. My doctor told me that the parasites in my liver had been killed. The Chinese have known for years that Artemsisia kills the malaria parasite, but I notice that a Canadian pharmaceutical company have ‘discovered’ its anti-malarial properties and will, no doubt, sell it at a premium.

  13. Rob

    March 22, 2011 at 1:13 am

    Julie,

    So sorry to hear about the cerebral, my aunt has it and has had a few complications. The Doctor told me to drink ridiculous amounts of water, I guess the theory is to take the pills and flush the liver.

    Will look into the sea weed, not sure if this type is reoccurring? I’m quite ignorant to the whole thing to be honest.

  14. Nomadic Chick

    March 22, 2011 at 1:44 am

    wow Rob, insanity. We are baby horses. I’ve had the weirdest things in India that wouldn’t affect the average Indian. My take is whatever modern medicine dishes out is not always the right way. I learned that years ago when a bad back was largely ignored by my doctor. Get well, man. Rest, good food, a hot girl and sleep (though hard with hot girl) will do the trick. :)

  15. Rob

    March 22, 2011 at 1:47 am

    Resting up and bouncing to an easier part of the world, for a while. Yeah I am not sure if the whole antibiotic for this that and everything is the way to go.

  16. Angela

    March 22, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Wait a minute, are you saying that big pharma make our immune system dependent on the chemical stuff for money?? Oh yeah, maybe that’s why the heaviest medicament I take is aspirin, and only when I’m *really* sick.
    Never done a vaccine, and I’ll do one only if it’s mandatory for traveling to a place I want to visit. A friend of mine last year has done vaccines for I think all diseases discovered in the span of a thousand years and then fainted. I guess we need to make our immune system stronger without the help of extra-attentive pharma-backed doctors.
    Great post and great site, get well soon :)

  17. Rob

    March 22, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Hey Angela,

    Not sure I’d go that far, you didn’t get your hep vaccinations? But I do agree with the rest of your points, ergh. *shakes fist*

    • Angela

      March 23, 2011 at 2:39 am

      Yes, sure I did the mandatory vaccinations when I was a child, but growing up I gradually avoided all antibiotics, not really keen on polluting my system, as you put it ;)

  18. ayngelina

    March 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Happened to a friend of mine in Africa as well. Fortunately they caught hers early. I haven’t had to take my Malarone yet in South America but I wonder if it matters…

  19. David Krug

    April 6, 2011 at 12:13 am

    It almost killed me when I didn’t treat it.

  20. Lorraine

    April 10, 2011 at 1:49 am

    Back from Portugal and just read your blog. I am so sorry to read that you are sick with Malaria. You certainly did take all the necessary precautions. I wish you a speedy recovery.

  21. nairobian

    April 15, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I suspect you went to Kenya, doxycycline is not suitable for Kenya, what quack advised you to take take it? Only Mefloquine is Lariam is too but has too many side effects no wonder you got malaria. you choose the cheap and ineffective option and you got the bite…duh

    • Rob

      April 15, 2011 at 6:08 am

      I was in Tanzania actually.

  22. katja

    April 22, 2011 at 6:29 am

    wow, rob, what a bummer story. but i feel lucky i read it as i am going to kenya next month and completely forgot to think about malaria. sure enough, it#s on my mind now.

    get well soon!!

  23. Stephen

    May 16, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Hmmm…not making me feel very secure on my doxycycline here in Northern Thailand and Laos. Thanks for the post. Get better, dude.

    • Rob

      May 16, 2011 at 8:03 am

      No worries in Thailand, also if it’s not rainy season and you’re not deep in the bush, don’t worry.

      Honestly, if you ARE ON THEM, be very cognizant for anything that feels weird, it masks them so you don’t know.

      Malaria wasn’t that bad, it’s dysentery and relapsing fever that will kill ya. Just make sure you get that malaria treated.

      Good luck.

  24. Caz Makepeace

    August 15, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    My brother got it in Africa as well when he was also taking malaria drugs. The malari drugs are preventative though just there to help you when you get it. Or that’s what I’ve been told anyway.
    The joys of African travel!
    I think this is an old post, so I’m sure you’re travelling well now. I hope

  25. jenjenk

    September 12, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    yikes!! it sounds terrible [only because i don't really know anyone who's had it before] hope you’re doing better now!

  26. Dirk | The Safari Co

    December 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Great post on malaria in Africa. And spot on with the comments about getting tested early, then treated effectively. Hope this didn’t put you off from visiting Africa again… it’s an awesome continent to explore. Hope to see you here again!

  27. Alexa

    July 10, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    I also got malaria on anti-malaria drugs while in Uganda. Didn’t get the reoccurring kind and was treated super fast. My hotel took me to a clinic right away after I showed signs of it. We had been told that if the symptoms showed up while I had been back in the states (takes a while to incubate), doctors might not have been able to discover it as quickly as the docs in Uganda.

    • Rob

      July 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      That sucks but thanks for sharing as people need to know. The key is getting checked as soon as you have any type of sickness as malaria is often the culprit and it’s usually a quick fix of identified early.

  28. deb benefield

    October 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    My daughter is currently in India but was in Ghana before that and contracted malaria – pretty
    bad case from the sounds of it. Really hard doing much from the states to help…..and her being over there alone – just not great scenario.

    • Rob

      October 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      She should be okay as long as she receives treatment. Hopefully everything works out as well as possible.

  29. Anne

    November 7, 2012 at 3:44 am

    I just got back from Togo, W. Africa last Friday and caught the ‘devil’ malaria two days before my departure home. Both my friend and I were on generic malarone for the 65 days we were there. She actually got malaria TWICE. Symptoms were horrendous but I was treated with hours of feeling crummy. Have you gotten it again? I’m worried about the recurrence as I have no idea what strain it was. They simply said I had “small malaria”.

  30. Ash Morris

    December 11, 2012 at 1:13 am

    o_O I just hope you learned since posting this that malaria pills don’t give you an immunity; they kill the parasites as they hatch. You can still get Malaria on Doxycycline, it just kills them off as they go through the cycles. The fact that you didn’t die, is thanks to the pills.

  31. Jess

    January 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm

    hey there! I am heading back to Africa (Chad) next week, I think this is an ooooold post, but thought I’d respond (which I never have done to a strangers site before!)

    So the malaria conversation! Well, there are SOME areas in the world where Malaria is resistant to some drugs… also, there are areas where the Malaria is so prevalent that it kinda beats out the drug.
    Early intervention is KEY! Also sleeping in a mosquito net, wearing long sleeves or being inside around dusk = all good prevention!

    • jess

      January 29, 2013 at 10:45 pm

      ps… I leave for Chad tomorrow, so wish me luck!

      • Rob

        January 30, 2013 at 8:10 pm

        Great advice and good luck!!!

  32. Erica

    February 19, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Anti-malaria medicines can’t actually stop anyone from getting malaria. They don’t kick in until after the fact. They just help your body fight malalria naturally when you only have a mild case. Still, if you had malaria while on the drugs and didn’t know it (because the drugs stopped you from FEELING sick), it could re-surface in the future and cause problems. Also – if you want to take preventative pills – they are about $3.00 for 100 pills if you buy them in Africa (instead of $3 for every pill if you buy them in the USA) – about 100 times cheaper.

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