Monday, November 16, 2009

Malaria in Vanuatu

"Vanuatu, an archipelago of over 80 islands in the South Pacific, ranks behind only the Solomon Islands for having the highest rate of malaria infections. Malaria in Vanuatu has been getting steadily worse since the 1980s, which is why UCSF scientists are among the medical professionals working hard to control malaria in this region" (UCSF).

Malaria parasites are found in all regions of Vanuatu, and "[t]ransmission occurs from December to May. Either mefloquine (Lariam), atovaquone/proquanil (Malarone), or doxycycline may be given. Mefloquine is taken once weekly in a dosage of 250 mg, starting one-to-two weeks before arrival and continuing through the trip and for four weeks after departure." Malarone is a "combination pill taken once daily with food," the side-effects of which are "typically mild". Doxycycline "is effective," against malaria in Vanuatu "but may cause an exaggerated sunburn reaction, which limits its usefulness in the tropics" (MD Health). It is important to know that "Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug in Vanuatu and should not be taken to prevent malaria in this region" (CDC). Malaria resistance to Chloroquine is becoming increasingly throughout the world as the parasite adapts.

"UCSF researchers, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation", "are conducting a large-scale household-level survey of malaria treatment and prevention practices in Vanuatu. Over 900 households on four islands (out of a total of more than 80, although only a few are populated) have participated in the study. Researchers also collected blood samples from all members of the households selected for the survey, which will permit them to link survey responses on prevention and treatment practices to biological markers" (UCSF).

For more information on the study, please visit UCSF web page.

CDC. Malaria in Vanuatu.

MD Travel Health. 'Vanautu'.

UCSF. Malaria Prevention.

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