Antimalarial prophylaxis--use and adverse events in visitors to the Kruger National Park.S Afr Med J. 1999 Feb; 89(2):170-5.SA
To determine the use of antimalarial prophylaxis and the relative frequency of adverse events with different regimens in visitors to the Kruger National Park.
Retrospective postal survey of a cohort of 7,397 visitors during April 1996. Telephonic interviews were conducted with all respondents who reported neuropsychiatric adverse events necessitating medical attention, and their medical caregivers.
The most commonly used regimens were chloroquine and proguanil in combination (C&P) (35.6%) and mefloquine (18.4%). However, non-recommended regimens were also used by travellers to this chloroquine-resistant area, including chloroquine alone (15.7%). Adverse events were reported by 23.8% of travellers and were more common in the C&P group than the mefloquine group (28.9% v. 25.0%, P = 0.0100). Gastro-intestinal side-effects were significantly more common in the C&P group (nausea (P = 0.0170), diarrhoea (P = 0.0008), mouth ulcers (P = 0.0000)), while neuropsychiatric side-effects were more common in the mefloquine group (depression (P = 0.0000), light-headedness (P = 0.0009), anxiety (P = 0.0060)). Only 30% of travellers reported using antimalarial drugs both regularly as prescribed and for 4 weeks after leaving the malaria area. The most commonly reported reason for changing prophylaxis was advice from a physician or pharmacist (41.9%).
Health professionals providing medical advice to prospective travellers to malarious areas must tailor recommendations based on the balance between malaria risk in a specific geographical area and the benefits and tolerance of protective measures. Mosquito-avoidance measures should always be advocated, but counselling on antimalarial prophylaxis will be guided by the malaria/prophylaxis (serious adverse events) risk ratio. Where drug measures are indicated, the importance of their correct use should be emphasised.