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January 2000 Vol. 15, No. 1   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Malaria in the Caribbean and Mantas in Hawaii

from the January, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Aloha Editor: I’m a dive guide in Kona, Hawaii. I did my first manta ray night dive in 1985, and since that time I’ve logged over 400 night dives with manta rays in Kona. My passion for these magnificent creatures inspired me to create a business called Manta Pacific (www.mantapacific.com), which is dedicated to the study and conservation of manta rays. I just read an Undercurrent article about the manta rays in Kona (see the 9/99 issue of Undercurrent). While it is true that the number of manta sightings at the traditional dive site at the Kona Surf was down in the beginning of 1999, we have actually found other sites along the coast where the mantas are plentiful. The rays at these dive sites are the same rays we’ve seen at the Kona Surf. We are averaging 2-3 at the new location(s), which is the same average as at the Kona Surf over the last eight years. So in response to “Travel Tip: Hawaii: Where have all the Mantas Gone?” The mantas are still here. We’ve expanded our locations and the results are great!

— Keller Laros

Dear Editor: After reading the article on malaria in Roatán in the Oct. ’99 issue, I called and faxed the CDC. I was told that only the “rural” areas of both Honduras and Roatán have had malaria cases lately and not to worry about taking medication if I were going to a dive resort such as Anthony’s Key. Do you stick by your story?

eddiediver@aol.com

Editor’s Comment: It is interesting that the CDC itself seems to be of two minds about Roatán’s malaria risk and what travelers should do about it. The CDC representative who spoke with me confirmed malaria cases among tourists whose only recent travel had been to Roatán and voiced the CDC’s official position as recommending malaria prophylaxis for any Roatán travelers. Apparently other CDC representatives feel that malaria prophylaxis is not necessary because Roatán malaria cases have been confined to “rural areas.” (Of course, all of Roatán is pretty rural, and I’d have a hard time defining where the “urban areas” start.) I’m not qualified to give medical advice, but if I were going to Roatán, I probably would not take chloroquine. However, I would be very cautious about avoiding mosquito bites by applying repellents liberally and avoiding dusk and dawn exposures, when the malaria-transmitting Anopheles mosquitoes feed. Evaluating malaria risk and comparing it to the cost of chloroquine in terms of money, hassle, and side effects is obviously an individual decision. Undercurrent’s only hope is to provide you with information. You make the choices from there.

— John Q. Trigger

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