Many overseas visitors who travel to our shores both in KwaZulu-Natal and of course the rest of the country are naturally concerned about the possibilities of contracting Malaria whilst on holiday. We’ve put together the following article to help advise visitors. This is however just a simple guide, it’s always best to follow the advice of your professional healthcare practitioner.
Note that the following is taken from various sources.
What is Malaria?
- Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium.
- The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases progressing to coma or death.
- It is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions, including much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
Is there malaria in South Africa?
- The quick answer is “yes”.
- Through good malaria control efforts, the disease has pretty much been restricted to three provinces in north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal, parts of Mpumulanga and Limpopo.
- It is also worth remembering that malaria is a seasonal disease with periods of low and high transmission rates.
- Typically low transmission periods in South Africa are between May and September.
Will I see mosquitoes while in South Africa?
- You probably will, but keep in mind that not all mosquitoes seen carry the disease.
- The mosquitoes which do carry the malaria parasite are part of theAnopheles group.
- The mosquitoes which carry the parasites in malaria endemic areas generally bite between dusk and dawn.
What precautions can I take when entering a malaria endemic area?
- Mosquitoes which carry malaria generally bite between dusk and dawn so close windows and doors and remain indoors during this time if possible.
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin. Lotions and spray options are available.
- Spray your accommodation with an aerosol insecticide.
- Wear long-sleeved, light-coloured clothing, long trousers and socks.
- Sleep under a bednet or in a netted tent or use screens to prevent mosquitoes from flying in.
The “ABC” of Malaria Prevention.
- Awareness – be aware of the risk.
- Bite prevention – avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, take the necessary precautions.
- Chemoprophylaxis – use prophylaxis to protect yourself against malaria.
- Diagnosis – insist on diagnostic tests if fever develops a week or more after exposure to malaria.
- Effective – malaria treatments are available and it is important to get the appropriate treatment specific to your circumstances.
Early Detection of Malaria
- Malaria symptoms may only develop 10-14 days after an infective mosquito bite.
- If a person has taken chemoprophylaxis, this period might be even longer. This can reduce suspicion of malaria to the detriment of the patient, especially as many people believe that prophylaxis is a guarantee against malaria.
- Non-specific flu-like symptoms are common presenting symptoms of malaria. Some of these include: fever, rigors, headache, sweating, fatigue, myalgia (back and limbs), abdominal pain, diarrhoea, appetite loss, nausea and vomiting, cough. In young children, malaria may present with fever, lethargy, poor feeding and vomiting.
- You should seek immediate medical attention if you have flu-like symptoms for up to six months after visiting a malaria area.
For more up to date information about malaria, check out these sites…