Fact: The world is full of mosquitoes. Fact: Asia Pacific has a few spots with heavier densities of mosquitoes carrying diseases like dengue fever, encephalitis and, most notably, malaria. Follow these tips and you can decrease the likelihood of contracting malaria.
The easiest way to avoid malaria is to avoid getting bitten by an infected mosquito:
1. Select a resort/live-aboard with screened windows.
2. Wear long sleeves and pants in neutral colours. As an extra precaution, treat clothing with permethrin (e.g., Sawyer Duranon Permethrin Insect Repellent).
3. Stay indoors at dawn and dusk.
4. Wear an appropriate strength DEET repellent (e.g., UltraThon 32%). Picaridin-based repellents also are quite effective and much less irritating to the skin and malodorous than DEET (e.g., Cutter Advanced Aerosol).
5. Avoid scented toiletries.
6. Upon arrival, treat your quarters with bug spray and retreat on a regular basis.
Next, consider taking an antimalarial:
1. The right medication depends upon the area you’re visiting, so check with your doctor.
2. Malarone (atovaquone + proguanil) is among the safest and most effective on the market.
3. Lariam (mefloquine) is also quite effective, but has potential side effects of concern to divers because they are dangerous and may mimic DCI — e.g., dizziness, sensory and motor abnormalities, headache and fatigue.
If you still have questions, there’s a wealth of information available to you online:
DocVikingo has been scuba certified for more than 35 years and has dived all over the world. He is a practising doctor in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area and has held faculty positions at several major hospitals, including Johns Hopkins. With an interest in diving medicine, he serves as administrator at Scuba Clinic Online.