Malaria Tablets for Peru – Are They Needed for Safe Travel?


18 Jun 2024

Eager to trek through Peru’s gorgeous terrain? Make sure you’re prepared for common health risks – including malaria. 

This leaves many travelers wondering: are malaria tablets needed to avoid contraction? 

In the article below, we’ll cover everything to know before departing – so you can prepare for a safe trip.

Insight on Malaria Risk in Peru

Malaria is a strong concern in many regions of Peru. 

The Amazon Rainforest areas – including Loreto, Madre de Dios, and parts of Cusco – are particularly high-risk (with mosquito activity “creeping into” urban areas as well). Coastal areas generally have a lower risk. 

Pay attention to areas with dense vegetation and moisture, as these elements attract mosquitos. 

A good rule of thumb: if you’re only staying in coastal regions, malaria tablets may not be needed. Anywhere else in Peru at lower elevations deserves high consideration.

Are Malaria Tablets Recommended for Peru?

Yes – doctors strongly recommend malaria tablets when traveling to medium & high-risk areas in Peru. 

Insect repellent and protective clothing can help – but antimalarial medications are crucial for effective protection. Many travelers come to realize it’s unwise to risk transmission (and potentially ruin your trip) when a simple antimalarial can offer strong protection.

Preventive Measures Against Malaria

Antimalarial Medications

Different antimalarial drugs are available, and the choice depends on several factors such as:

  • Health history
  • Trip duration
  • Specific travel areas within Peru

Common options include Malarone, Doxycycline, and Mefloquine. Malarone is often preferred due to its fewer side effects (making it a popular choice among travelers).

Malarone Prescription

Additional Protective Measures

Beyond taking malaria tablets, consider the following precautions for Peru:

  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants to reduce skin exposure.
  • Sleep under insecticide-treated mosquito nets (especially in high-risk areas).
  • Avoid outdoor activities during peak mosquito biting times (dusk to dawn).

These measures – combined with antimalarial medication – provide the kind of protection that allows for peace-of-mind during travel.

Understanding and Managing Side Effects

All medications have potential side effects, and malaria tablets are no exception:

  • Doxycycline may cause gastrointestinal issues and increased sun sensitivity, which isn’t ideal for outdoor activities. 
  • Mefloquine can result in nausea and sleep disturbances (making it hard to enjoy your trip). 
  • Malarone is generally well-tolerated but can cause mild itching and vivid dreams. 

Consulting a healthcare provider is essential to manage these side effects and ensure they don’t affect your travel experience (or your enjoyment).

When to Start Taking Malaria Medications

Timing is crucial for the effectiveness of malaria tablets. 

Start taking medication before entering malaria-prone areas (Malarone and Doxycycline: 1-2 days before travel). Continue the medication after leaving the area to ensure complete protection (Malarone: 7 days post-travel, Doxycycline: 4 weeks post-travel). 

This schedule ensures that any malaria parasites introduced to your bloodstream are effectively eliminated – keeping you safe.

Cost Considerations

The cost of malaria tablets can vary based on the type of medication, purchase location, and duration of travel. It’s crucial to obtain upfront pricing to budget effectively. 

Telehealth services like Runway Health can be a cost-effective option, providing prescriptions and home delivery (which saves time and reduces costs). These services often have lower prices compared to traditional clinics and pharmacies.

Additional Malaria Factors

Health Insurance

If it makes sense for you, explore travel health insurance that covers malaria treatment. This can be a lifesaver if you contract malaria and need medical attention.

First Aid Kit

Carry a travel first aid kit with basic medical supplies and any necessary prescription medications. This kit should include pain relievers, antiseptics, bandages, and other essentials.

Staying Informed

Check the CDC or WHO websites for malaria outbreaks in Peru. This can help you take additional precautions if needed (and keep you updated).

Common Concerns About Malaria Tablets

Are Malaria Tablets Mandatory for Peru?

No, they are not mandatory – but they are strongly recommended due to the high risk in certain areas. It’s best to consult with a healthcare provider to determine if you need them based on your travel itinerary (and personal health).

Can You Get Malaria Tablets Over-the-Counter?

No, a prescription is required for malaria tablets. Services like Runway Health offer a convenient way to get an online prescription without in-person appointments – with upfront pricing and delivery to your doorstep.

What If You Contract Malaria in Peru?

If you contract malaria in Peru, seek medical attention immediately. Major cities have medical facilities equipped to treat malaria, but access to care in remote areas can be challenging. 

Carrying a supply of antimalarial medication is advisable, especially when traveling to regions with limited healthcare facilities (antimalarials are also typically recommended when malaria symptoms begin, if you haven’t already started dosing yet).

Before Departing, Remember:

Malaria poses a serious health risk in Peru, particularly in the Amazon Rainforest regions. 

However, with proper precautions, travelers can significantly reduce their risk of infection. Taking antimalarial medication and employing personal protective measures are key strategies for prevention. Services like Runway Health make it easier for travelers to access necessary medications, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable trip to Peru.

Keep in mind – while the risk of malaria should not deter you from visiting Peru’s incredible landscapes and cultural sites, taking the necessary precautions is crucial for a healthy and safe journey. By staying informed and prepared, you can enjoy all that Peru has to offer without compromising your health (and make the most of your adventure).

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