Malaria & Dengue in North Sulawesi
We are in the tropics and there are cases of Malaria and Dengue in Manado. However, after having lived here now for 20 years, we never met anyone who really had it so we don’t think there is a great risk.
But it is possible, specially in the wet season and when you also want to travel to other parts of Indonesia, like Raja Ampat or Kalimantan. There are several drugs, (profylaxe), you can take to prevent Malaria. The most popular is Malarone or Malanil (Atovaquone-proguanil). Consult your family doctor and follow his or hers advice.
Even with a profylaxe, you are not 100% protected and against Dengue is no profylaxe. To get infected, you need to be stung by a certain kind of mosquito who before, had stung somebody who was already infected. This mosquito is mainly active early morning and around dusk. So the best way to prevent Malaria and Dengue is to not get stung by this mosquito. You can do that by using plenty of insect repellent that contains the ingredient “deet”. Especially during the risk periods (early morning-late afternoon). Our experience is that a product with 50% deet is most effective in our parts.
All our accommodation has mosquito netting in front of ventilation windows in case you want to have them open. In the room you also have a can with mosquito repellent. If you spray the room a bit before you go to the restaurant for dinner, you will sleep mosquito and smell free (from the repellent).
A diver’s ear is subject to more stress than a non divers ear. The constant equalization of your eardrums to the water pressure, the change in climate and the tropical sea water can sometimes lead to very painful ears.
Sea water can get trapped inside when they are dirty. Often it starts as an allergic reaction due to certain algae in the water which then, can lead to complications with infections. Setting the air conditioning too cold in your room is often the reason for colds, decongestion and blocked sinuses.
In general, it is important to have clean ears when you start diving and that you maintain them well during your stay. Rinse them out with fresh water after dives and don’t start equalizing too late, or not frequently enough while you descend. There are many products on the market to keep your ears happy. Have a look around before you pack and come prepared. Don’t let your ears spoil your dive holiday!
Small wounds from scratching etc
In the tropics, tiny wounds and scratches on your skin, that you wouldn’t pay attention to at home, can quickly lead to infections if you don’t treat them properly. When you dive, the wound will probably be cleaned out, but diving daily also prevents it from closing. Be a bit fussy and put an adhesive bandage on it as soon as possible, preferably with some antibiotic cream. Keep the bandage on till the scratch has closed.
Climate in the tropics is warm and humid. When you dive, you are breathing dry air and on the boat, you often lie in the sun with a nice breeze. All excellent conditions to become dehydrated.
Dehydration can cause problems, like nausea, headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and do not forget it is an important contributable factor to the risk of getting decompression sickness. Once you have one or more of these symptoms, you not always link them with dehydration and the problem gets even worse.
There is only one way to prevent all this and that is: “drink, drink and drink!” Drinking water (bottled) is free in the resort, in your room and on the boat. It is plenty available so use it. Depending on conditions, 4 to 5 liter a day is very normal.
There is a well functioning 2 person re-compression chamber in Manado (Malalayang Hospital), 20 car minutes away from Lumbalumba Diving.
If treatment is necessary and you are still on the boat, transport time can take longer. We have a very competent emergency plan, first aid box, oxygen and telephone on the boats, but that does not mean that we allow decompression dives to our guests and guides.
The chamber is actually not part of our dive planning, so we prefer you stay away from it.
- Don’t dive when you are not fit. Be honest to yourself (and us..).
- Don’t push it to the limits.
- Dive relaxed. You want to fill your logbook with sightings, not covered distance!
- Make your 3 minute safety stop.
- Don’t make so-called ‘reversed dive profiles’ (jojo-dives).
- Drink enough water and take it easy after dives.
It is highly recommended you dive with a computer. You can get away with tables, but it will limit your time underwater significantly. Just following the guide’s or your buddies computer is not a good thing to do as your profile is always different from the one carrying the computer.
Even though symptoms related to decompression sickness can be caused by more factors than just depth and time, we think that conservative dives are the best way to keep you away from the chamber.
Re-compression chamber treatments are expensive and quickly sets you back 10.000,- US$ if not more..
Therefore, we strongly recommend your travel / health insurance includes coverage for diving accidents. Many travelers with standard health insurance assume that diving accidents are automaticly covered. Unfortunately that is not true. Check your policy before you leave! Often it is possible and not expensive to extend the policy with dive accident coverage for the duration of your stay. A very good alternative is to become a DAN member.
DAN stands for ‘Divers Alert Network’ and is a world wide non profit organization, dedicated to Scuba Diving safety. If you become a member you are automaticaly covered for diving related incidents including eventual necessary evacuation. Basic membership is about 35,- US$ per year (varies from region to region). Specially when you are an avid diver, do not hesitate and become a DAN member today! For a DAN office in your region, check out: