visiting The Gambia you are strongly recommended to
take anti-malaria medications as a preventative step
against the mosquito transmitted disease, Plasmodium
Falciparum parasite, which is normally passed to humans
by the female Anopheles mosquito.
The usual anti-malarial medicines to be prescribed
are the prophylactics Doxycycline, Malarone® (atovaquone
proguanil), Lariam® (mefloquine). P. Falciparum has
shown Nivaquin® (chloroquine) resistance to treatment
and is no longer recommended as an effective prevention.
There has been heated debate and controversy about the
possible side-effects of the Lariam® / mefloquine tablets.
UK travellers should check with their local NHS GP,
before departing on holiday, as you will almost certainly
be prescribed anti-malaria medicines.
However, Malarone is considered a better alternative
with minimal side-effects, and with the added bonus
that it can be taken 1 day before you depart. Having
said all this you should consult your doctor, as he
or she is in the best position to advise you on the
best course of pills you should be taking.
These usually appear 7 to 15 days after infection, and
include headaches, fever, shivering, vomiting, nausea,
and flu-like symptoms.
They are varied because it all depends on the type of
Plasmodium parasite that caused the malaria. That's
why if you have any of the above symptoms or ailments
while in Gambia, or on your return home, you must see
a doctor at a clinic for a test. If left untreated
it can stay with you for a very long time indeed.
Other Preventative Measures & Protection:
of the medications above are 100% effective so it is
also advised that you do take the following additional
• Bring along mosquito repellent such as DEET cream
or spray which can be rubbed on your arms and legs.
This should be done just before dusk, or if you are
venturing into the bush during the day. The other item
is to use insect spray, which is locally available,
such as Bop or Baygon. When spraying do so behind cupboards,
under beds and in other shaded areas.
Use bed netting where the accommodation does not have
an insect screen on their widows. This is particularly
necessary when staying in basic lodgings further
up-country or at camps by the River Gambia.
• There are special mosquito coils called Moon
Tiger available in local shops. These are ideal to take
along when eating in open-air restaurants, as you would
place them under the table and it keeps many bugs at
bay. Do not light coils in any room as they can be a
• Because Anopheles mosquitoes
are most active at night and dusk, always close your
main door at sunset to stop them entering your sleeping
• Sleep using a fan. Because the insects
are very light in weight they cannot get a foothold
because of the constant air-flow.
• For people
permanently resident in the country here are a list
of tropical Plants that repel mosquitoes: Citronella,
Basil (Amiaceae), L. cheraliera.
1) Remove all standing water in your garden.
2) Cut grassy areas short.
3) Remove dead and decaying leaves.
The following information is about the geographic local
prevalence as well as the time of the year when the
mosquito is most numerous. Remember, it is not the humble
mosquito that suffers from malaria, it is humans. The
insect merely takes the parasite from one person to
another. The following is just a rough guide.
•The insects (known locally as 'yorr') are most numerous
during the rainy season which is from mid-June to mid-October.
•The female of the species feeds on plant sap and
human blood, when pregnant, so you will find plenty
in lush tropical gardens as well as by mangrove creeks
•As has been mentioned they are mostly active at night
time and sunset. Though you can still be bitten in the
daytime especially in shaded, green areas of foliage.
This all depends on which one of the various mosquito
species are around, some of which are known to be carriers
of the parasite. One of which is known as Anopheles
Should you find yourself suspecting you might have contracted
the disease then see your tour representative and ask
to see a doctor immediately.
If you are an independent traveller try and see a medical
practitioner as soon as possible. Failing this then
you should get tested at either the Jobot Laboratories
on Kairaba Avenue (open till 9pm) or Lamtoro Medical
Centre at Kololi. You can find their contact details
clinics and various diagnostic
labs. If they are closed then you have to decide
for yourself whether to take curative treatment, which
is usually available at many of the Kombo's pharmacies.
Based on the findings of a workshop on the anti-malaria
treatment policy in Ethiopia, held in May 2004 in Addis
Ababa, the WHO has suggested the need to change to the
use of the ACT drug, artemether-lumefantrine for the
treatment of uncomplicated malaria.
Always get the advice of your medical doctor or properly
authorised medical personnel before deciding to take
or not to take any medications or precautions. The above
is not meant to be a substitute for their recommendations