Though not a frequent disease in Ecuador, some areas, notably the Pacific coast near the port city of Esmeraldas, have been reported to have a couple of hundred cases of malaria every season (Ecuador’s population is approximately 13 million). It is common for these strains to be resistant to chloroquine, an inexpensive, first-line antimalarial treatment. We strongly recommend that you consult your physician and inquire about prescription medication for this specific disease. You will weigh the risk of short-term exposure against the potential for side effects from prophylactic malaria treatments. Other tropical inflictions such as dengue fever, leishmaniasis, and botfly infections do occur infrequently in Ecuador.
Covering up and employing plenty of your favorite insect repellant is always a safe strategy. Remember that DEET, a major ingredient in many insect repellants, melts plastic and has been known to fuse a shutter release button to the camera body. There are also organic repellants made from botanical ingredients and other non-DEET products. For more information on health issues in Ecuador and South America, visit the Center for Disease Control, the Pan-American Health Organization, and Native Planet.