England’s World Cup stars prescribed Malarone to avoid Malaria

With only three days to go until England’s opening Group D game kicks off against Italy, news has emerged that the whole 23-man playing squad are taking the antimalarial Malarone (Atovaquone Proguanil), in addition to 49 additional travelling back-room and administrative staff.

As the following Brazil Malaria Map shows (from the NHS Fit For Travel website) a large portion of the country is alarmingly within the red ‘high risk’ zone for the deadly disease malaria, including the city of Manaus.

Manaus is one of the host cities for the 2014 World Cup and incidentally is where England will begin their quest for World Cup glory on Saturday against the Azzurri, so it is therefore relieving news to know the entire England camp are taking Malarone – Easily one of Medical Specialists™ Pharmacy’s most requested medications from our Holiday and Travel range of treatments.

The Football Association spoke to an expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and decided the prescribing of Malarone was absolutely vital for the travelling party to Brazil, and all were administered with their first pill during breakfast on Tuesday, 48 hours before leaving for Manaus.

Malarone contains the two active ingredients atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride, and is used for the prevention and treatment of malaria, a potentially deadly disease that is usually caused by the bite from a female mosquito.

The medication is sought by a high number of people who travel to high-risk countries for malaria, but around one in 10 people who take the drug can experience side effects such as diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and headaches. One might argue such side effects could be an annoyance if a key England player is affected before the game on Saturday.

However, Medical Specialists™ Pharmacy counter that it is more important that lives are saved, even if there is a risk of one or two players being ruled out of a game, and it is for such reasons that 23 players are taken for games where only 11 can be on the field at once!

It seems manager Roy Hodgson agrees. Although Hodgson didn’t take any Malarone when he visited Manaus in February for the World Cup workshop, he acknowledges the importance of antimalarial treatments such as Malarone.

When asked about any side effects of the drug for his players, he said: “It’s a question for the doctors really: I went to Manaus and I didn’t take any for the two days I spent there. That might just be something to do with the fact that I’m not a football player. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve got to go with medical opinion. If the doctors are telling me that, when we go to Manaus, the players must take malaria tablets, whether it has side effects or not, what do I do? I can’t turn around and say: ‘We will not take malaria tablets’ because the bottom line is it’s better to have stomach cramps or whatever it is for one player in 10 than have someone contract malaria, because that would be unthinkable.”

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