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Staying healthy


Malaria is now almost non-existent in the Caribbean. In fact, the island of Hispaniola is the only place where there is still a limited risk of catching the disease. Most of the malaria is in Haiti, although cases have also been reported in rural areas of the Dominican Republic and along the Haitian border. Transmitted by an infected mosquito, malaria can cause anemia, jaundice and, in its most serious falciparum form, kidney failure, coma and death. Symptoms can be any one or all of the following: general aches and pains, fever, chills and headaches; and can develop as much as one year after the initial infection. To conclude this rather gloomy paragraph, even if you religiously follow the preventative measures outlined below, you can still catch malaria.

Taking some form of prophylactic or 'malaria pill' is recommended if you are going to be spending a lot of time in rural areas or along the Haitian border. The preferred antimalarial drug for visits to Hispaniola is Chloroquine. It has proven to be safe to use, has minimal side effects, and only involves taking one pill a week - as opposed to the alternative, Paludrine, which must be taken twice a day every day. Start your course one week before leaving home, and continue taking the pills for four weeks after your return (because there is normally a delayed reaction of a few weeks between catching malaria and displaying the symptoms). You should also try to take your pill at the same time every day, preferably after a meal. Fansidar is the antimalarial equivalent of the 'morning after pill', with one important qualification: it is only a temporary measure. Some travelers take a dose of Fansidar (three tablets) to treat a possible malaria infection if immediate medical attention is unavailable. You must continue to follow your prescribed course of antimalarials and seek medical advice as soon as you can.

Other Health Files:
Sunburn and Heatstroke
Medical Kit
Travel Insurance
Other Diseases
Preventing Insect Bites

Iguana Mama

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