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.
Questions concerning malaria in Tambopata are probably the most common health questions for Puerto Maldonado. As with most tropical areas, malaria in Puerto Maldonado does exist but is very rare among tourists. The word Malaria originated as a term for bad air as the disease was mainly found in areas close to water (mosquitoes hatch in still water). We now know malaria is caused by the Plasmodium parasite that infects certain mosquitoes, which in turn infect people. Therefore, in addition to taking a malaria prophylaxis (preventative medication), it is also advised to reduce the probability of being bitten by a disease carrying mosquito.
Remember that the medication provided by your doctor is a chemical barricade against malaria rather than a cure or guaranteed protection. It is advised to limit mosquito bites, as mosquitoes carry a wide range of diseases such as yellow fever and dengue fever. You can reduce bites by limiting activity at dusk and dawn, using mosquito repellent, keeping covered up, and sleeping under a mosquito-proof mosquito net. It also helps if you take Vitamin B1 and eat garlic.
Try not to worry too much but plan accordingly and prepare. Mosquitoes are a nuisance in the tropics and the Anopheles mosquito (malaria carrying genus) is an insect that has been responsible for a lot or heart ache in human history. I have traveled in the Amazon Rainforest for several months and never got sick from a tropical disease. I have also lived in various other tropical destinations around the globe and still have not been sick. Try to stick to the specific medication routine unique to each medication and you should be fine. Also, different medications are better suited to different people and the place you are visiting. Make sure you talk to your travel doctor a few weeks before departure about the differences as you will be required to start the medication before you travel.
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.