Please consult your personal G.P or travel medical professional before undertaking any trips to the tropics. Tropical environments are home to a variety of pathogens that cause different diseases.
Originating from the meaning for “bad air” as cases were most common around areas of water (mosquitoes hatch in still water), malaria is the disease that stands out in human history. Malaria is spread from the bites of mosquitoes infected with the malaria parasite named Plasmodium. There’s an interesting history of malaria to ponder while you’re drinking your gin and tonic (Wikipedia link).
Malaria in Iquitos does exist and preventative medication should be taken. Recorded cases among the people of Loreto (province that includes Iquitos city) have been increasing over the years due to various factors, including deforestation, immigration, and specific immunity of the parasite to certain chemicals in malarial drugs. It’s very rare for a tourist to get sick, but we advise being prepared.
Remember that the prophylaxis provided by your doctor is a necessary preventative medication, but should not be relied upon. You can increase your chances of avoiding malaria by reducing mosquito bites as much as possible. This is achieved by limiting activity at dusk and dawn, keeping covered up, using mosquito repellent, sleeping under a mosquito-proof mosquito net. It also helps if you take Vitamin B1 and eat garlic. Have a talk to your G.P. or travel doctor to make sure the medication you take is suited to you and the area you are visiting.
For the last twenty years, tourists to the Tahuayo Lodge in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve have never been sick with a tropical disease, but it’s always better to be safe. Try not to worry too much, but prepare well & stick to your specific malaria medication routine.
After traveling for 3 months between Amazon Rainforest areas, I never got sick from a tropical disease, but I did stick to an anti-malarial medication routine, except for the odd hiccup. See our article on what to take to the Amazon Rainforest for extra ideas on preventing bites and read up on mosquitoes to know your enemy. Also, if you’re really keen, there are some interesting articles at the World Institute of Health malaria pages and you can see their malaria profile on Peru. Also check out the Center for Disease Control pages for diseases in Peru and recommended medication.