Can Antibiotics Help Prevent Malaria? And Which Ones?


26 Nov 2023

Travel concerns over malaria (a mosquito-borne illness) prompts the question: Can antibiotics contribute to prevention? 

While antibiotics are effective against bacteria… malaria is a far different situation. 

While your physician is most qualified to assess your situation, we can provide some general guidance (not official medical advice). Let’s dive in:

Should Antibiotics Be Used For Malaria?

Antibiotics, designed for bacterial infections, are generally not used for preventing malaria. 

Due to the parasitic nature of malaria, the vast majority of doctors recommend antimalarials instead of antibiotics.

Why Antimalarials Over Antibiotics – And Which Ones?

Specialized medications like Chloroquine, Malarone (Atovaquone-Proguanil), Doxycycline, and Mefloquine are commonly prescribed for malaria prevention. 

These drugs act specifically on the malaria parasite, offering a more targeted approach.

Many doctors prefer Malarone (Atovaquone and Proguanil) – due to potentially higher effectiveness and lower chances of side effects.

Malarone: A Closer Look

What is Malarone?

Malarone disrupts the malaria parasite’s life cycle, preventing its reproduction in the liver and red blood cells. 

This combination medication is a preferred choice for many travelers.

  • Ease of Use: Malarone stands out for its simplicity—often a once-daily dose makes it a convenient option.
  • Fewer Side Effects: Compared to some other antimalarials, Malarone is associated with fewer side effects, enhancing its appeal for travel.

Malarone cost

Choosing the Right Medication

Factors to Consider

When selecting a malaria prevention medication, consider your destination’s malaria risk and individual health factors. 

Consult with a healthcare professional to ensure the most suitable choice for your circumstances.

  • Individual Health: Consider personal health conditions, allergies, and potential side effects when choosing a medication.
  • Destination Risk: The prevalence of malaria in your travel destination significantly influences the choice of medication.

Other Preventive Measures

Avoiding Malaria Beyond Medication

Antimalarials are generally effective, but following standard preventive measures will enhance your protection against malaria. 

Mosquito bite prevention and awareness of your surroundings help contribute to safe travels:

  • Use insect repellents 
  • Wear clothing that fully covers your skin 
  • If possible, sleep under bed nets or alongside AC units to minimize the risk of mosquito bites

FAQs about Malaria Prevention

  • Timing of Medication: Consult your healthcare provider to determine when to start taking antimalarials, as timing varies based on the specific medication. For example – Malarone is typically started 2 days before traveling – continued daily during your stay – and for 7 days after leaving high-risk areas.
  • Antimalarial Costs: Cheaper antimalarials may be less-effective, and high quality antimalarials can exceed $200. However, there are cheaper ways to get a prescription for Malarone.

How to Get a Prescription for Malarone (Without Overpaying)

Getting a prescription for Malarone traditionally involved a primary care provider or travel clinic. 

However, this process can be time-consuming, inconvenient and far more costly. This is where Runway Health comes in:

  • Runway is an online travel clinic that provides online consultations with US-licensed physicians.
  • This allows you to get a prescription for Malarone shipped straight to your door – without leaving your home (and costing less than $200).
  • The process is simple: you fill out a health questionnaire, consult with a doctor online, and if approved, your prescription is delivered to you.

Not only do you save time, but you also avoid consultation delays and potential stockouts at your local pharmacy. 

Runway Health is also cheaper than traditional in-person consultations, making it a great option for many travelers. Online consultations are only $30.

Final Thoughts on Antibiotics vs. Antimalarials for Preventing Malaria

Antibiotics are typically not recommended for malaria prevention. Antimalarials, particularly Malarone, offer a targeted solution. 

Beyond medications, make sure to always take necessary precautions – like proper clothing and insect repellent.

Consulting with a healthcare professional ensures a tailored approach to your preventive measures. Your health history, travel destination & duration affect your medication dose & regimen.

Get an antimalarial prescription

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