The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has issued a malaria advisory, warning travellers that South Africa is currently experiencing its annual malaria season and that there has been a recent increase of malaria cases in Mozambique due to the storms following Cyclone Dineo that affected Mozambique and the north-eastern parts of South Africa.
Also the Ministry of Health and Wellness for Botswana has issued a warning that the country is experiencing a high level of malaria, following the recent heavy rains.
With the approach of Easter and the public holidays in April, it is important for travellers visiting any of the malaria areas within or outside of South Africa to take additional precautions and maintain a higher index of suspicion.
The NDC has released the following helpful Q&A:
Where is Malaria Found?
Malaria in South Africa is present along the border with Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It is specifically prevalent in:
- Vembe and Mopane district municipalities of Limpopo Province
- Ehlanzeni district municipality in Mpumalanga Province
- Umknanyakude in Kwazulu-Natal Province
- Kruger National Park.
Neighbouring countries such as Mozambique, Zimababwe, Zambia, Malawi, Botswana and Namibia also experience high levels of Malaria.
When Is Malaria Season?
Malaria is distinctly seasonal in South Africa and occurs during the rainy months between September and May.
Who May Be Affected?
People living in an area with malaria are likely to contract the disease if precautions are not taken.
What Precautions Should Be Taken?
Measures To Avoid Mosquito Bites
- Wearing long pants, especially at night when mosquitos are more active
- Applying topical mosquito repellents that contain DEET
- Sleeping under mosquito repellent bed nets treated with insecticide
- Spraying living quarters with insecticide after closing doors and windows
Measures to Prevent Malaria from Developing
Travellers should consult with their doctors for a risk assessment and to obtain the appropriate anti-malarial prophylaxis. Current recommended chemoprophylactic regimens include either mefloquine, doxycycline or atovaquone-proguanil. The consulting doctor will advise on the best option and duration of treatment for everyone.
How Will I Know If I Have Malaria?
All travellers should be maintaining a high level of suspicion for flu-like symptoms during and up to one month after their visit ends. These symptoms include:
· Chills and/or sweating
· Nausea and vomiting
· Body aches
What Should I Do If I Suspect That I Have Malaria?
Malaria is treatable and is best diagnosed as early as possible. Anyone presenting with these symptoms should visit their nearest doctor or health facility immediately for an urgent malaria test. A negative test should be treated with caution and tests should be repeated until positive or until symptoms resolves.