However, there is one exciting development on the horizon: a plant called qinghao, or wormwood, in the West, also known as Artemisia annua by the Chinese. This herb was recognized as an antimalarial drug by the Chinese in the early Seventies. The Chinese have purified the herb and in clinical trials over 2000 patients, demonstrated that this plant was more rapidly acting than any other antimalarial, with no evident toxicity.
So impressive is the action of this herb that it merited a laudatory editorial in The Lancet (14 March 1992). The problem is that at the moment, no drug company shows the slightest interest in conducting the extensive testing that would allow licensing here. If you can get hold of an experienced Chinese herbalist, it might be prudent to take this herb, which has a better track record than most of the drugs now on the market.
MIMS recommends that all travellers consider getting a tetanus vaccination, regardless of whether they are travelling to remote areas.
One of the problems with this drug is that it has been so purified that it doesn't work very well anymore. This was the view of an 1982 American government subcommittee on Investigations and General Oversight, which also noted that the degree of potency of the vaccine "can vary considerably from preparation to preparation." Furthermore, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association (November 14 1990) many patients react to thimerosol, the mercury containing preservative used in it.
Perhaps the best preventative, whether or not you decide to get your travel jabs, is make sure to follow certain rules in consuming food and water, as most diseases are transmitted in this manner. Only drink water that has been boiled or purified (include the water to clean your teeth), so that usually means the bottled variety. Take a supply of chlorine or iodine based purification tablets with you, since they may be hard to find once you arrive at your destination. One way of assuring that your water is potable is to stick to carbonated water, which is less likely to be tap water dressed up in a bottle. Don't eat salads, ices or ice cream, ice cubes, shellfish, dairy products (which may be unpasteurized) or fruit, unless it is peeled or thoroughly washed in purified water. All food you eat should be cooked thoroughly. Try not to swallow sea water.