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You take chloroquine as a tablet (orally).
Chloroquine prevents the development of
malaria parasites in the blood. Doctors use it to both
prevent and treat malaria. Chloroquine does not destroy the Plasmodium (P.)vivax and
P. ovale parasites that may remain in the liver.
To prevent some strains of malaria, you take chloroquine once, 1 to 2
weeks prior to travel to an area where malaria is present, and then weekly
while you are in the area, and weekly for 4 weeks after you depart from the
To treat malaria, you take chloroquine at several-hour
intervals and at a higher dosage than when it's taken to prevent
Chloroquine is the medicine of
choice to prevent and treat malaria in some areas of the world.
Chloroquine is effective on all five species of parasites, including some
strains of P. falciparum. But in many areas
P. falciparum is resistant to chloroquine, and other medicines must be
Chloroquine can also be used to prevent and treat
P. falciparum and P. vivax
infections in areas where drug resistance to chloroquine has not been
confirmed. These areas include Central America, the Caribbean, and parts of the
Middle East.2 Other parts of the world have confirmed
resistance to chloroquine.
Chloroquine is an effective
medicine to prevent and treat a malaria infection caused by P. ovale or P. malariae parasites. But how well it
works depends on how resistant the parasites are in the geographic location
where the malaria infection occurred.
prevent malaria is most effective if you take the correct dosage regularly.
It's easier to remember if you take your weekly dosage with meals on the same
day of the week each week, such as every Monday at lunch.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor if you have:
Side effects of chloroquine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
Taking chloroquine with meals may help you avoid
an upset stomach.
Chloroquine is the most effective
medicine for preventing and treating a malaria infection caused by
P. ovale, P. malariae, or
P. knowlesi parasites.
In some areas where
malaria is common, travelers are sometimes advised to get a rabies vaccine if
they are staying longer than 30 days. If you are taking chloroquine, make sure
the rabies vaccine is injected into your muscle (intramuscular). Chloroquine
can reduce the effectiveness of this vaccine when it is injected into the skin
Medicines to prevent malaria destroy the malaria
parasite when it enters the bloodstream. To completely rid yourself of the
parasite, take the medicine for 4 weeks after you leave the area where malaria
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Hill DR, et al. (2006). The practice of travel
medicine: Guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
Clinical Infectious Diseases, 43(12):
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010).
Yellow Book 2010. Available online:
May 14, 2012
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
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