Mefloquine prevents the development of
malaria parasites in the blood. Mefloquine does not
destroy the Plasmodium (P.) vivax or P. ovale parasites that may remain in the liver.
mefloquine as a tablet (orally).
To prevent malaria, you take
mefloquine once, 1 to 3 weeks before you travel to an area where malaria is
present, and then weekly while you are in the area, and weekly for 4 weeks
after you leave.1
Mefloquine is used mainly to prevent malaria. If
used to treat malaria, you may take 2 doses of mefloquine 6 to 12 hours
People take mefloquine to prevent
malaria and, in rare cases, to treat malaria. It is used to prevent malaria in
areas where the strain of
P. falciparum is resistant to chloroquine.
Do not take
mefloquine if you have a history of irregular heartbeats (ventricular
arrhythmias), abnormal sensitivity to this medicine, psychological conditions
(such as depression), or seizures.
One review of several different
studies found that mefloquine is effective in preventing malaria.2
Medicine to prevent malaria is most
effective if you take the correct dosage regularly. It's easier to remember if
you take your weekly dosage with meals on the same day of the week each week,
such as every Monday at lunch.
Medicine to prevent malaria
destroys the malaria parasite when the parasite enters the bloodstream. Due to
the long life cycle of the parasite, you need to take the
medicine for 4 weeks after you leave the area where malaria is present.
Mefloquine is usually effective against all five species of
Plasmodium and in regions where the
chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum parasite is
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor right away if you develop:
Common side effects of mefloquine
You may be able to avoid the common side effects of
mefloquine by taking the medicine with meals.
See Drug Reference for a full list
of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
If you have had a mental illness such as depression, mefloquine may not be right for you. In North America,
people typically only use mefloquine to prevent malaria infection from
chloroquine-resistant P. falciparum. When taking
mefloquine to treat malaria infection, you need higher doses, and central
nervous system side effects are common.
Some species of
Plasmodium in Thailand, along the border areas with
Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma), are resistant to mefloquine.
areas where malaria is common, travelers may also be advised to get a rabies
vaccine if they are staying longer than 30 days, or if their professions expose
them to special risks, such as those seen by biologists and veterinarians. If
you are taking mefloquine, make sure the rabies vaccine is injected into your
muscle (intramuscular). Mefloquine can reduce the effectiveness of this vaccine
when it's injected into the skin (intradermal).
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
CitationsHill DR, et al. (2006). The practice of travel
medicine: Guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
Clinical Infectious Diseases, 43(12):
1499–1539.Croft AM (2010). Malaria: Prevention in travellers,
search date November 2009. Online version of Clinical Evidence (7).
May 14, 2012
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
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