Lariam (Mefloquine) — Malaria Prevention

Malaria is a serious, potentially life threatening disease transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Your itinerary includes travel to a malarious area. It is therefore recommended that you take a medication that decreases the risk of contracting Malaria.

If Chloroquine resistant Malaria is reported in the area of your travel (part of Africa, South America, and Asia) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Lariam (melfloquine) 250 mg – once weekly beginning 2 weeks before travel to a malarious area, weekly while in a malarious area, and for 4 weeks after leaving a malarious area. This medication should be taken after a large meal and with 8 oz. of fluid, at the same time each week. Lariam can be used for long-term prophylaxis, over several months or years.

In the past few years, the side effects caused by the use of Lariam to prevent Malaria have received a lot of attention. Some people have responded to this information by avoiding all malaria prophylaxis and “taking their chances” with the disease rather than risk the side effects of the medicine. Taking chances with Malaria can be dangerous. Malaria is a serious disease and on rare occasion can be fatal.

Most travelers who take Lariam have few, if any, side effects. The most commonly reported side effects include nausea, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, and vivid dreams. Lariam has very rarely been reported to cause serious side effects, such as seizures, hallucinations, and severe anxiety. Minor side effects usually do not require stopping the drug. The actual number of significant reactions is approximately 1-10%.

If travelers have questions about using Lariam to prevent Malaria, they should see a trained health care provider for consultation about the risks of Lariam side effects in their particular case.

Be sure to read all the prescribing information provided by your pharmacy.

Lariam is not recommended for persons:

  • Allergic to Lariam or related compounds
  • With epilepsy or other seizure disorders
  • A history of mental illness or other psychiatric disorder including, but not limited to depression or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Taking medications for an irregular heart beat or other heart problem.

Lariam should not be started within 3 days of starting or finishing oral typhoid vaccine. Persons who use Lariam should not use halofantrine (Halfan). Periodic eye exams and blood tests are recommended for people taking Lariam one year or longer.

See your obstetrician, if pregnant, or pediatrician for infants and children for dosage and advice.

Women of childbearing age should avoid pregnancy while on Lariam and for three (3) months after the last dose.

As with all malaria medications, care should be taken to avoid mosquito bites through the use of bed nets, mosquito repellents and Permethrin clothing treatment.

Although Lariam is an effective anti-malarial it is not 100% effective. If you have an illness with a fever, SUSPECT MALARIA and seek medical treatment.

Planning a trip abroad?

Make time for an appointment at the Student Health Center Travel Clinic.