Malaria Prevention and Risk Areas in South Africa

Overview

Published: 29/03/2012

Photos

High Risk (Red) & Low Risk (Orange) Malaria Areas

Malaria is prevalent in some parts of the Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces in South Africa. If you are planning a trip to South Africa, please be certain to investigate the risk factor of Malaria in the areas you plan to tour.

Our image illustrates the high (red) and low (orange) risk areas in South Africa. In general North-Eastern KwaZulu-Natal and various parts of Mpumalanga and Limpopo (nearly all areas along the border between Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland) are considered to be high risk areas, due to their being developing countries with sub-tropical weather conditions. The highest risk season is during the summer months, between September and March, due to the high rainfall and humid conditions. 

Although Malaria is a potentially fatal disease, it can be avoided in the majority of cases by being well-informed and taking good preventative measures. Please note that not all mosquitos are carriers and only one specific strain of Malaria is considered to have a high mortality rate.

Precautions for Malaria
•    Be aware of the area you are visiting’s Malaria risk factor, by knowing this you are already better off and can take suitable precautionary measures . Read up on the Malaria areas in South Africa and contact all the places you will be staying at and confirm your findings.
•    If you are going to a high risk Malaria area, speak to your health practitioner about prescribing preventative malaria tablets.
•    Personal protection includes wearing mosquito repellent that contains DEET (N, N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) and long-sleeved tops, long pants and socks from sunset until sunrise (dusk till dawn), throughout the year.
•    From dusk till dawn, as mosquitos have a nocturnal feeding habit, it is also advisable to close windows and doors of your accommodation, to prevent mosquitos from entering your room, chalet, tent, etc.
•    Use a good aerosol mosquito insecticide, or vaporisation mats (if electricity is available) e.g. Doom, Baygon, inside your accommodation. Be sure to use the insecticide as directed per the instructions, to ensure that you do not inhale too much of the product.
•    Sleep underneath a mosquito net and spray repellent on your exposed skin.
•    Keep all doors and windows closed if they do not have fly-screens attached.
•    If it is very hot and the room has air-conditioning or a fan, use it, as moving air is another mosquito deterrent, and face the air flow over the bed area.

Who is at a higher risk of getting Malaria?
Although anyone can get Malaria there are people whom are at higher risk than others, and they should avoid Malaria areas completely. They include:
•    Babies
•    Children under 5 Years of age
•    Pregnant women
•    The elderly
•    Splenectomised & immune-compromised individuals
•    Individuals who have HIV/Aids
•    Comorbid disease e.g. Epilepsy, depression

The truth about Malaria
•    Malaria can develop anywhere from between 10 days to 6 months after staying in a high, or low, risk Malaria area – even if you took preventative medicinal measures.
•    Early detection is possible, should you start experiencing any flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, sweating, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, coughing, back pain, etc. please ensure that you are tested for Malaria as soon as possible.
•    Delayed diagnosis and incorrect treatment of Malaria are usually the most common causes of Malaria complications and deaths. It is imperative that you advise your doctor that you have been in a Malaria area, even if you have taken medicinal and other precautions.




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