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History FAQs

What anti-malarial medications were used in the 1970s and 1980s?

In the 1970s and 80s, the ADF used chloroquine and Maloprim™ (dapsone/pyrimethamine) for malaria prophylaxis (prevention), either alone or together depending on which country was being visited and what the malarial type and risk was at the time. After completing the course of prophylaxis, another drug called primaquine would then be taken for two weeks to eradicate any malaria parasites still in the body in order to prevent malaria attacks later on.

Chloroquine was generally well tolerated. Minor side effects like headache, dizziness or gut upset were common. With prolonged use (continuous use for 3 - 5 years or more) chloroquine has been known to cause eye problems in some people.

Maloprim was also generally well tolerated although it could cause skin rashes or allergic reactions in some people. In higher doses (more than one tablet weekly) it could cause a fall in white blood cells (agranulocytosis), making the person more susceptible to overwhelming infection. People who experienced this rare side effect got very sick within a few weeks of starting Maloprim and it resolved quickly after discontinuation of the medication.

By the late 1980s, these medications were becoming ineffective against malaria, as the parasite had evolved and developed resistance.  As such these medications were phased out across our region and more effective ones adopted, including doxycycline, Malarone™ and mefloquine (see anti-malarial medications).

What insecticides were used in mosquito fogging in RAAF Butterworth in the 1980s?

Fogging is a standard means of controlling mosquito populations to reduce the risk of mosquito borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue. All insecticides used by the ADF conformed to the Australian Standards applicable at the time.

The insecticides used at that time in Butterworth were maldison/malathion (an organophosphate) and bioresmethrin/Reslin (synthetic pyrethroid). These insecticides are not known to have long term health effects.

Acute health effects from the incorrect handling and use of concentrated solutions such as insecticides can occur through contact, inhalation and ingestion. This is limited to those who are directly involved in making up the solution for spraying of insecticides.

It is not common for people exposed to the fog to suffer health side effects although people who have respiratory conditions, such as asthma, may cough or have trouble breathing for a short time.