Did Alana Cutland suffer bad reaction to anti-malaria drugs in Madagascar?

Police in Madagascar are today probing the theory that a Cambridge student who jumped to her death from a plane at 5,000ft may have suffered a severe reaction to anti-malaria drugs.

Alana Cutland, 19, from Milton Keynes, broke open the plane's door and threw herself out after fighting off the pilot and a fellow British passenger who had clung on to her legs above the island's vast jungle. 

Police have said the Biological Natural Sciences student had suffered a flurry of five 'paranoia' attacks and was 'stressed' before her death on the morning of Thursday July 25.

Her grieving parents Alison and Neil have said their 'bright' and 'enthusiastic' daughter was ‘particularly excited’ to carry out research in the Indian Ocean's rare crab population having raised the money to fund her trip to Madagascar herself.

But eight days after arriving she threw herself from a Cessna reportedly rented by Mr and Mrs Cutland who were bringing her back to the UK after a series of fraught phone calls and desperate email exchanges with their eldest child.   

Police on the east African island say they do not yet know why she opened the plane's door and jumped at 5,000ft - but are probing whether she had a reaction to anti-malaria drugs.  

In very rare cases some of these medicines such as Larium and Malarone can cause paranoia, depression, hallucinations and even suicidal thoughts.  

Alana Cutland, 19, from Milton Keynes, pictured with her parents Alison and Neil, who were bringing her home to Britain from Madagascar after she became unwell on her research trip

Alana Cutland, 19, from Milton Keynes, pictured with her parents Alison and Neil, who were bringing her home to Britain from Madagascar after she became unwell on her research trip

Authorities shared this photo, a recreation of Ruth Johnson and the pilot's attempts to save Alana and stop her from jumping out. She fell from the Cessna-style light aircraft while it was above the east African country, about ten minutes after take-off

Alana was thought to be travelling back from a research trip to the remote area of Anjajavy - police are probing if she fell ill after taking anti-malarials

Alana was thought to be travelling back from a research trip to the remote area of Anjajavy - police are probing if she fell ill after taking anti-malarials

Alana's companion Ruth Johnson, 51, and the pilot had clung on to her legs for several minutes - but she broke free from their 'exhausted' grip and jumped to her death.  

The second-year Biological Natural Sciences student was on a six-week study trip to analyse the Indian Ocean seabed and its rare endangered crabs.

Cambridge University student Alana Cutland, 19, fell to her death from a light aircraft above Madagascar after reportedly forcing open the door and jumping from 5000ft

Cambridge University student Alana Cutland, 19, fell to her death from a light aircraft above Madagascar after reportedly forcing open the door and jumping from 5000ft 

Local police chief Sinola Nomenjahary said: 'The victim is a student asking for a lot of moral support. She had suffered a paranoia attack five times. The witnesses claimed that Alana had difficulty managing her private life and her research.

'She was in regular contact with her parents to whom she receives moral support. She did not handle her stresses well'. 

Police have released an extraordinary image of officers recreating the student's final moments based on the statements of the two other people on board.   

Teams are searching for her body but there are fears that it may not be found because she jumped into a remote area of the Madagascan jungle filled with carnivorous wild animals including the panther-like fossa mongoose. 

Alana had been due to stay on Madagascar for six weeks, but cut it short after just eight days following the conversations with her mother Alison, an executive at Cranfield University School of Management and energy consultant Neil Cutland, both 63. 

The family rented a small plane to take her from a lodge on the north of the island to Madagascar's Ivato Antananarivo international airport where she would have flown to Paris and then on to London, according to the Midi-Madagasikara newspaper. But five minutes after take-off she jumped. 

Alana and her parents had several intense and agitated phone calls in the days and hours leading up to her death and she was suffering from 'stress' and 'paranoia', reports on the island have claimed. 

Mr and Mrs Cutland convinced researcher Ruth Johnson, 51, to accompany her on the five-seat Cessna-type aircraft because they were worried about their eldest daughter.

Alana broke open the door and fought with Ms Johnson and the pilot as they tried to drag her back into the cabin, Madagascar police chief Nomenjahary has said.   

Did Alana Cutland suffer a severe reaction to anti-malaria drugs? 

In very rare cases some anti-malaria drugs, such as Larium and Malarone, can cause paranoia, depression, hallucinations and even suicidal thoughts. 

Police are probing whether tragic student Alana Cutland had a severe reaction to the medicine. 

Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, is not recommended for people who suffer from depression or other mental health problems.

It's side-effects can include dizziness, headache, sleep disturbances (insomnia and vivid dreams), as well as psychiatric reactions. 

These include anxiety, depression, panic attacks and hallucinations.

Source: The NHS 

Mr Nomenjahary said the student had suffered five 'paranoia attacks' while on the 'failed' research trip to see rare Madagascan crustaceans. 

Alana was around ten minutes into the flight back from a research trip to a remote lodge in Anjajavy, northern Madagascar, where she was studying several rare species of crabs.  

Police chief Nomenjahary say they have pieced together what happened in the minutes before Alana died 

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