Medical Q&As

Malaria - prevention?

Does a combination of Vitamin B1 & garlic capsules act as a repellent to mosquitoes? I took lariam last year and will never take it again as I felt awful for the whole holiday and for months afterwards.

I am not aware of any evidence to suggest that VitaminB1 and garlic can repel mosquitoes and I certainly would not recommend them as an alternative to antimalarial medication. I note your comments about lariam but there are effective drugs available other than lariam and this is a matter that you should discuss with your GP. It is important to stress that relying on insect repellents alone does not provide adequate defence against malaria. Malaria prevention is based on a twin pronged approach of repelling the mosquito and avoiding bites coupled with antimalarial drugs to prevent the disease should you actually be bitten. Malaria is a potentially fatal disease and it is unwise to travel to an area where the disease is endemic without taking the appropriate precautions, which includes use of insect repellents and taking prophylactic medication in accordance with the instructions for the particular drug. You should also try to cover your limbs and not leave them exposed at sunrise and sunset, which are the high-risk times for being bitten. Also avoid using scented products such as perfume or eau-de-cologne because these products might actually attract mosquitoes. For a fuller discussion on malaria and its prevention you should read our feature on this disease, which can be accessed through the following link: http://www.irishhealth.com/index.html?level=4&id=627. You might also wish to check out our travel calculator for information regarding malaria risk in the area you propose visiting. This information is available at: http://www.irishhealth.com/calc/travel01.html