I'm going to be travelling from Mexico to Panama over several months, my doctors and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention web site say that I should be taking malaria pills. I know that in Costa Rica you do not have to(even though your doctor and CDC say otherwise), because the cases of malaria are almost none, but I don't know the severity in other places. I do not wish to take the pills, I try to stay away from medication unless I have too, and I dont want to pay for several months worth. Where are the highest risks? Should I just risk it, stay away from stagnant water and wear bug spray? Or should I take the medicine? Are mosquito nets really important? Is dengue common? Any help and information would be great. (thanks!!!)
There we go again...
There is a number of good threads on (precuations against) malaria in this forum; check those first, because they will probably answer your questions. Basic line is that you shouldn't take any risks, and see a docter who knows about travelling and tropical diseases before departure, and act upon her/his advice.
Dengue is common, but not very easily contracted as far as I know. Check www.cdc.gov/travel, their information is quite detailed.
Personally, I m a proponent of anti-malarials, though many travelers posting in this forum will tell you to forget them and just use insect repellent. That's okay advice IF you remember to use it diligently, which most people don't. Ultimately, the choice will be yours.
As Niels suggested, perform a search in this forum with just the keyword malaria and numeruos threads will be available for you to read. They cover Mexico through South American countries. If, after reading what is already available, you still have questions concerning this subject, please comment here.
Definitely check for a clinic/doctor in your area that specializes (or is known to be familiar with CA) and talk to them about Dengue.
CDC - Dengue Information
Also, have you considered the Hep A&B vaccinations? I would be more concerned about hepatitis than Dengue.